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Battle of King's Mountain, 

OCTOBER 7TH, 1780, 





Secreiary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and vtctnber of various Historical 
and Antiquaria7i Societies of the Country, 












WITH the siege and fall of Charleston, early in 1780, the rude 
shocks of war were transferred from the Northern and Middle 
States to the Carolinas and Georgia. Gates, the victor of Saratoga, 
was sent to command the Southern army ; but his lucky star failed him, 
and he was disastrously routed near Camden, and the gallant Sumter 
shortly after surprised at Fishing Creek. Gloom and dismay overspread 
the whole Southern country. Detachments from the victorious British 
army were scattered throughout the settlements; and the rebellious 
Colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia were reported to the Home 
Government as completely humiliated and subdued. Ferguson, one of 
the ablest of the Royal commanders, was operating on the western 
borders of the Carolinas, enticing the younger men to his standard, 
and drilling them for the Royal service. 

At this gloomy period, when the cause of Liberty seemed prostrate 
and hopeless in the South, the Whig border leaders, Campbell, Shelby, 
Sevier, Cleveland, Lacey, Williams, McDowell, Winston, Hambright, 
Hawthorn, Brandon, Chronicle, Hammond, and their compeers, mar- 
shalled their clans, united their forces, overwhelming Ferguson and his 
motley followers, crushing out all Tory opposition, and making the 
name of King's Mountain famous in our country's history. This 
remarkable and fortunate battle deserves a full and faithful record. 
The story of its heroes has in it much to remind us of an epic or a 
romance. They were a remarkable race of men, and played no incon- 
siderable a part in the long and sanguinary struggle for American 
Independence. Reared on the outskirts of civilization, they were early 
inured to privations and hardships, and when they went upon the " war- 
path," they often obtained their commissaries' supplies from the wild 


woods and mountain streams of the region wliere they carried on tlieir 
successful operations. 

As early as 1839, '^^ collection of materials was commenced for 
this work. Three of the lingering survivors of King's Mountain were 
visited by the writer of this volume, and their varied recollections noted 
down — James Sevier, of Tennessee, John Spelts and Silas McBee, of 
Mississippi; and Benjamin Sharp, of Missouri, and William Snodgrass, 
of Tennessee, were reached by correspondence. 

The gathering at King's Mountain in 1815, to collect and re-inter 
the scattered remains of those who fell in the conflict was limited in 
attendance. In 1855, the seventy-fifth anniversary was appropriately 
celebrated, with Gen. John S. Preston, and Hon. George Bancroft as the 
speakers. But it remained for October seventh, 1880, to eclipse the 
others, in a Centennial celebration, when thousands of people assembled, 
making a memorable civic and military display, with an address by Hon. 
John W. Daniel, and poems by Paul H. Hayne and Mrs. Clara Dargan 
McLean. Then followed the unvailing of a massive granite monument 
having a base of eighteen feet square, and altogether a height of twenty- 
eight feet. It slopes from the upper die to the top, which is about two 
and half feet square, capable of further addition, or to be crowned with 
a suitable statue. Inscriptions are cut on marble slabs, imbedded two 
inches in the granite masonry. 

This worthy King's Mountain Centennial very naturally excited 
much interest in the minds of the public regarding the battle itself, and 
its heroic actors, and prompted the writer to set about the preparation- 
of his long-promised work. Beside the materials collected in former 
years — in ante bellum days — more than a thousand letters were written, 
seeking documents, traditions, description of historic localities, and the 
elucidation of obscure statements. Old newspaper files of the Library 
of Congress, Philadelphia Library Company, and of the Maryland and 
the Wisconsin Historical Societies, have been carefully consulted, and 
information sought from every possible source in this country, England 
and the British Colonies. Truth alone has been the writer's aim, and 
conclusions reached without prejudice, fear or favor. 

The following deceased persons, who were either related to, or had 
personal intercourse with. King's Mountain men, kindly contributed in 
years agone, valuable materials for this work : 



Ex-Gov. David Campbell, of Virginia; Hon. Hugh L. White, Col. Wm. Martin, Ex. 
Gov. Wm. B. Campbell, Col. George Wilson, Col. George Christian, Maj. John Sevier, Jr., 
Col. Geo. W. Sevier, and Mrs. Eliza W. Warfield, of Tennessee; Hon. Jos. J. Mc- 
Dowell, of Ohio ; Maj. Thos. H. Shelby, of Kentucky ; Hon. Elijah Callaway, Dr. James 
Callaway, Hugh M. Stokes, Shadrack Franklin, Silas McDowell, Adam and James J. 
Hampton, of North Carolina; Hon. Wm. C. Preston, Gen. John S. Preston, Dr. M. A. 
Moore, D. G. Stinson, Jeremiah Cleveland, Mrs. Sallie Rector, Dr. A. L. Hammond, and 
Abraham Hardin, of South Carolina; Gen. Ben, Cleveland, of" Georgia; and Dr. Alex- 
ander Q. Bradley, of Alabama. 

Special acknowledgements are due to the following persons. 

Tennessee: — Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, Rev. Dr. D. C. Kelley, Hon. J. M. Lea, Anson 
Nelson, Hon. W. B. Carter, Col. H. L. Claiborne, Mrs. Mary A. Trigg, John F. Watkins 
Thos. A. Rogers, and Col. H. A. Brown. 

Virginia: — R. A. Brock, Hon. A, S. Fulton, W. G. G. Lowry, John L. Cochran, and 
Col. T. L. Preston. 

North Carolina:— T>t. C. L. Hunter, Col. J. R. Logan, W. L. Twitty, Dr. R. F 
Hackett, Col. Wm. Johnston, Hon. W. P. Bynum, Dr. W. J. T. Miller, Mrs. Mary A. 
Chambers, Hon. S. McDowell Tate, Col. W. W. Lenoir, Mrs R. M. Pearson, W. M. 
Rcinhardt, Hon. J. C. Harper, Hon. C. A. Cilly, Miss A. E. Henderson, Dr. G. W. 
Michal. Wm. A. McCall, Rev. W. S. Fontaine, W. S. Pearson, T. A. Bouchelle, John 
Banner, J. L. Worth, Dr. T. B. Twitty. M. O. Dickerson, A. D. K. Wallace, John Gilkey, 
A. B. Long, Dr. J. H. Gilkey, Hon. J. M. Cloud, Rev. W. S. Bynum, J. C. Whitson. Geo. 
F. Davidson. Mrs. R. C. Whitson. Miss N. M. McDowell. Miss A. M. Woodfin. James E. 
Reynolds, Lewis Johnson. G W. Crawford. W. H. Allis, Thos. D. Vance. Dr. J. C. New- 
land, W. M. McDowell, Rev. E. F. Rockwell, D. Burgin. A. Burgin, Wylie Franklin, 
James Gwyn, Jesse Yates, Dr L. Harrill. John H. Roberts, Mrs. M. V. Adams, Mrs. P. 
E. Callaway, Dr. B. F. Dixon, and Mrs. M. M. Thruston. 

South Carolina: — Rev. James H. Saye. Ex-Gov. B. F. Perry. Hon. Simpson Bobo, 
N. F. Walker, A. H. Twichell, Mrs. Edward Roach, Gen. A. C. Garlington, D. K. Craw- 
ford, Hon. John B. Cleveland, Elijah Keese, James Seaborn, and J. T. Pool. 

Georgia:— Jir. J. H. Logan, Gen. W. S. Wofford, W. T. Hackett, and A. N. Simpson. 

Alabama : — Rev. Z. H. Gordon, Col. J. H. Witherspoon, and Mrs. Lewis E. Parsons. 

Mississippi:—}. R. Hill. 

Arkansas : — Gen. D. H Hill. 

Missouri : — Dr. A. N. Kincannon. 

Kentucky :—Is3l?lc Shelby, Jr., and Col. H. H. McDowell. 

Illinois : — Sprague White. 

Ohio: — Mrs. Jennie McDowell Stockton. 

Wisconsin : — Hon. John A. Bentley. 

Pennsylvania : — G. R. Hildeburn. 

New York :—Gm. J. Watts DePeyster, and Geo. H. Moore, LL. D. 

Maryland: — Miss Josephine Seaton. 

Washington :— Col. J. H. Wheeler, and Hon. D. R. Goodloe. 

:Englana .-—Viscount Holmesdale, Col. Geo. A. Ferguson, and Alfred Kingston. 

New Brunswick .'—J. De Lancey Robinson. 

Nova Scotia .-—George Taylor. 

Ontario .-—Rev. Dr. E. Ryerson. 


While in the long years past the materials for this work have been 
collected, ample facts and documents have also been gathered for a 
continuation of similar volumes, of which this is the commencement — to 
be called, perhaps, the Border Series, embracing, in their sweep, the 
whole frontier from New York and Canada to the gulf of Mexico — 
Sumter and his Men — Pickens and the Battle of Cowpeus — Life and 
Campaigns of Gen. George Rogers Clark — Boone and the Pioneers 
of Kentucky — Kenton and his Adventures — Brady and his Scouts — 
Mecklenburg and its Actors — Tectimseh, the Shawanoe Leader — Brant, 
the Mohawk Chief— -m^A. a volume on Border Forays and Adventures. 
If there is a demand for these works, they will be forthcoming. 

Should King's Mountain and its Heroes be received with favor, and 
regarded as shedding new light on an interesting portion of our revolu- 
tionary history, not a little of the credit is deservedly due to the 
enterprising publisher, Peter G. Thomson, who warmly encouraged 
the undertaking, and has spared no pains in bringing it before the 
public in a style at once tasteful and attractive. 

Madison, Wis., September i, 1881. 



176S to May, 1780. 

Causes of the Revolution. — Alternate Successes and Disasters of the 
Early Campaign of the War. —Siege and Reduction of Charleston. 


May, 1780. 

Further Incidents Connected with the Siege. — Tyranny of the British 
Leaders. — Subjugation of South Carolina^ 


1741 to May, 1780. 

Early Life of Patrick Ferguson. — Brandywine Battle — Refrains from 
Shooting Washington. — Wounded. — Conducts Little Egg Harbor 
Expedition. — Nearly Killed by an Accidental Attack by his own 
Friends. — Biggon Bridge and Monk's Corner Affair. — Resents In- 
sults to Ladies. — Siege of Charleston. 


1780— May— July. 

Colonel Ferguson sent to the District of Ninety Six. — Organizing the 
Local Militia. — Major Hanger' s Accotmt of the up-country Inhabi- 
tants — his own bad reputation. — Ferguson' s seductive promises to the 
people. — The Tory, David Fanning. — Ferguson' s adaptation to his 
Mission — Mrs. fane Thomas' Adventure. — Colonel Thomas repels 



a Tory assault at Cedar Spring. — Fergicson advances to Fair For- 
est.— Character of the Tories—Stories of their phmderings.— Col- 
onels Clarke and Jones of Georgia— the latter surprises a Tory 
Camp —Dnnlap and Mills attack McDowell's Camp on North 
Pacolet. — Captain Hampton s pursuit and defeat of the Tories. 


1780— July— August. 

McDowell sends for the Over-Mountain Men. — Clarke joins him, and 
pushes on to Sumter's Camp. — Capttire and Escape of Captain 
Patrick Moore. — Moore's Plunderers. — Story of Jane Mcjunkin 
and Bill Haynesworth. — Shelby and the Mountaineers arrive at 
McDowell's Camp. — Capture of Thicketty Fort. — Expedition to 
Brown's Creek and Fair Forest. — Fight at the Peach Orchard, near 
Cedar Spring, and Wofford's Iron Works, and its Incidents. — 
Saye's Account of the Action. — British Report. — Contradictory 
Statements concerniitg the Conflict. 


1780— August IS. 

Mitsgrove's Mill Expedition and Battle. — Rencontre of the Patrol Par- 
ties. — British Alarm. — Information of the Enemy's Reinforcement. 

— Whigs throw up Breast-works. — Captain Inmari s Stratagem. — 
Enemy drawn itito the Net prepared for them. — Desperate Fight- 
ing. — Bines and other British Leaders Wounded. — Tory Colonel 
Clary's Escape. — Captain Inman Killed. — The Retreat and the 
Rout. — Incidents at the Ford. — Sam Moore's Adventttre. — The Brit- 
ish and Tory Reserve. — A British Patrol Returns too late to share 
in the Battle. — Burial of the Slain. — Length and Severity of the 
Action. — Respective Losses. — News of Gates' Defeat — its Influence. 

— Whigs' Retreat. — Anecdote of Paul Hinso7i. — The Prisoners. — 
Williams' Reward. — Cornwallis' Confession. — Comparison of Au- 


1780— Summer and Autumn. 

Incidents of the Up-coimtry — Major Edward Musgrove. — Paddy Carr 
and Beaks Musgrove. — The Story of Mary Musgrove. — Samuel 


Clowney's adventure. — William Kennedys Forays Against the 
Tories. — Joseph Hughes' Escape. — William Sharp Bagging a 
British and Tory Party. — Tories' Attack on Woods, and how dearly 
he sold his life. — Plundering Sam Brown. 


August, 1780— March, 1781. 

Cornwallis" Hanging Propeitsities. — Sumter a thorn in his Lordship's 
side. — Dispersion of Whig Bands. — F'erguson' s Success in Training 
the Loyal Militia. — Action of the Alarmed Tory Leaders. — Ferguson 
Moves into Try on County. — Colo7iel Graham Repels a Party of Plun- 
derers. — Ruse for Savijig Whig Stock. — Mrs. Lytle and her Beatier 
Hat. — Engagemettt on Cane Creek, aud Major Dunlap wounded. — 
Apprehension of Jonathan Hampton. — Dunlap' s Insolence. — Sketch 
of Dunlap' s Career and Death. 


July— October, 1780. 

Gathering of the King's Mountain Clans. — Williams' failure to get coiJi- 
jnand of Sumter's men — his tricky treatment of Sumter. — Fergu- 
son sends a threat to the Over-Mountain Men. — Shelby s patriotic 
efforts to titrn the scales on Ferguson. — Sevier, McDowell, Hamp- 
ton and Campbell unite in the Enterptise — Cleveland invited to 
join them . — Sevier's success inproz iding Supplies for the Expedition. 
— Rendezvous at the Sycamore Shoals. — Prcparaticns for the March. 
— Parson Doak commends the men to the protection of the Good 
Father. — Their March over the ?no7intains. — Joined by Cleveland 
and Winston. — Campbell chosen to the Chief Command. — Mc- 
Dowell's mission for a General Officer. 


September— October, 1780. 

Further gathering of the King's Mountain Men.— Williams' North 
Carolina Recruits. — Movements of Stmiter's Force under Hill and 
Lacey.— Troubles with Williams.— March to Flint Hill.— The 


Mountaineers at their South Mottntain Camp. — Patriotic Appeals 
of the Officers to their Men. — Resume of Ferguson s Operations in 
the Upper Catawba Valley. — Alarming hitelligence of the Ap- 
proxch of the Back Water Men. — Why Ferguson Tarried so long 
on the Frontiers. — British Schejne of Suppressing the Rebellion by 
the Gallows. — Ferguson Flees from Gilbert Town. — Sends Messen- 
gers for aid to Cornwallis and Cruger. — Frenzied Appeal to the 
Tories. — Ferguson's Breakfast Stolen by Saucy Whigs. — His 
Flight to Tate's Ferry. — Dispatch to Lord Cornwallis. — Takes 
Post on King's Mountain, and Description of it. — A^otives for Ling- 
ering there. 


October, 1780. 

Uncertainty of Ferguson's Route of Retreat. — A small party of Georgians 
join the Mountain Men. — Whig forces over-estimated. — Report of a 
patriot Spy froin Ferguson's Camp. — Williams' attempt to Mislead 
the Mountaineers. — Lacey sets them Right. — The South Carolinians 
treatment of Williams. — Selecting the fittest Men at Green river to 
pursue Ferguson. — Arrival at the Cowpens. — The Tory, Saunders 
— his ignorance of Ferguson, his Beeves and his Corn. — Story of 
Kerr, the cripple Spy — Gilmer, the cunning Scout, duping the 
Tories. — The Cowpens Council, further selection of Pursuers, and 
their Number. — Night March to Cherokee Ford. — Straying of Camp- 
belFs Me?i. — Groundless Fears of an Ambuscade. — Crossing of 
Broad river. — Stormy Times. — Jaded Condition of Men a}id Horses. 
■ — Tory Information. — Gilmer's Adventures. — Pla7t of attacking 
Ferguson . — Colonel Graham Retires. — Chronical assigned Command 
of the Lincoln Men. — Young Ponder Taken. — Fergusons Dress. — 
Pressing towards the enemy's Camp. 


King's Mountain Battle, October 7th, 1780. 

Ferguson and his Men Resolve to Fight. — The Bayonet their Main Re- 
liance. — British Strength. — Character of the Provincial Ratigers. — 
Different Classes of Loyalists Described. — Traits of the Mountain- 
eers. — The Holston Men, and Frontier Adventures. — Assignment 
of the Whig Corps to the Attack. — Campbeirs Appeal to his Men. 


— WinstorCs tnis- Adventures. — Cleveland not the First to Commence 
the Action. — Surprising the Enemy's Picket. — Shelby's Column An- 
noyed by the Enemy. — Campbell's Men Rush into tlie Fight— At- 
tack on the British Main Guard. — The Virginians Advance up the 
Mountain. — March of Cleveland's Men— Patriotic Speech of their 
Commander. — Drive in a Picket. — Movements of Lacey's ' Me?i. — 
Campbell's Corps Driven before the Bayonet — Rally, and Renew 
the Contest. — Shelby, too, Retired before the Charging Columns. — 
'The Right and Left Wings take part in the Action. — Culbertson's 
Heroism. — Captain Moses Shelby Wounded. — Ensign Campbell Dis- 
lodging Tories from their Rocky Ramparts. — Terrific Character of 
the Conflict. — Amusing Incident of one of Lacey's Meii. — Heroic 
Efforts of Campbell and his Corps.- — E?tsign Campbell's Good Con- 
duct. — Captain Edmundson's Exploit and Death. — Lieutenant 
Reece Bouuen's Disdain of Danger, and his Lamented Fall. — Camp- 
bell's Active Efforts and Heroic Appeals. — Death of Major Chron- 
icle. — The South Fork Boys Charged, and Several Wounded. — 
Robert Henry Transfixed, and yet Survived all his Associates. — 
William Twitty and Abram Forney. — Cleveland and his Men. — 
Lieutenant Samuel Johnson' and other Wounded Officers. — Intre- 
pidity of Charles Gordon and David Witherspoon. — Singular 
Adventure of Charles Bowen and Colonel Cleveland. 


The Battle— October 7th, 1780. 

Further Progress and Incidents of the Contest. — Heroic Act of William 
Robertson. — Thomas Robertson Shoots a Tricky Tory. — Treatment 
of the Tory Branson, by Captain Withrow. — Captain Lenoir's 
Part in the Battle. — Captain Robert Sevier Wounded. — Alarm 
concerning Tarleton. — Mistake caused by Campbell's Bald Faced 
Horse. — Campbell's Daring Reconnoiter. — Anecdote of Cleveland. 
— Colonel Williams' Patriotic Conduct. — William Giles "Creased" 
— Revives, and Renews the Fight. — Thomas Young's Relation of 
Colonel Williams' Fall. — Major Hammond's Desperate Charge, 
and singular Premonition of one of his Men. — Campbell and Shelby 
Renewing the Attack. — Lieutenant- Colonel Hambridge Wounded. — 
Ferguson's Pride and Recklessness — Attempting to Escape, is 
Mortally Wounded. — Various Statemetits of Colonel Williams' 
Fall.— Furious Charge of Campbell's and Shelby's Men.— Several 
Corps driven down the Mountain.— British Over-Shoot the Whigs. 
— North Carolina Tories first to Weaken.— Colonel Graham's Unex- 


pected Reiiirn. — Fergusons Fall — DePt-ystcr Vindicated. — Whigs 
slow to Recognise the White Flag. — Young Sevier's Shooting 
Paroxysm. — Efforts of Shelby and Campbell to Quell the Firing of 
the Whigs. — 'Three Rousing Cheers for the Great Victory. — 
Colonel Williams' Shot — a?z Exciting Scene. — Conflicting Stories 
of his Fatal Charge. — British Officers Sicrrender their Swords. — • 
Ferguson's Heroic Conduct in the Battle — his Mistakes. — He was 
Mortally Wounded, not Killed Out-Right. — Curiosity of the Whigs 
to View his Body. — His Mistresses. — Privations and Sifferings of 
the Mountaijzeers. — Strefigth of the Tones. — Absence of their 
Leaders. — Their Fighting Qualities. — Dismay of the Southern 
British Commanders.— Their Ignorajtce of the Over-Mountain 
IVhig Settlements. — Boone not 07i the Campaign. — Duration of the 
Battle.- — Strength and Losses of the British and Tories. — Colo?tels 
fohn and Patrick Moore. — Number of Prisoners Taken. — Errors 
in Report of Losses. — Names of Whigs Killed and Woimded. — 
Death of Captain Sevier. — William Moore Wounded. — Remarkable 
Losses in Campbell's Regiment. — Captains Weir and Shannon 
Arrive. — Counting the Dead. — Caring for tlie Wounded. — Guard- 
i7ig the Prisoners. — Scarcity of Provisions. — King's Mountain 
Souve7iirs. — Heart-Rending Scenes of the Battle Field. — The Night 
after the Action. 


October, 1780. 

Battle Lncidents. — Long Sam Abney Coerced into Ferguson's Army. — 
Death of Arthur Patterson. — Drury Mathis' Rough Experience. — 
A Tory Woman Finding her Slain Son. — Fatality of the Rifllemen. 
— Preston Goforth and three Brothers Killed. — A Brother kills u 
Brother. — The Whig and Tory Logans. — Williain Logan Noticed. 
— Prepariitg to Retire. — Burning Captured Wagons. — Horse-Litters 
for the Wounded. — Gray's Kindness to a Wounded Tory. — A 
Termagant Prisoner Released.^Messengers sent to the Foot-Men. — 
Arms Captured. — Tories made to Carry Them. — Trophies of Vic- 
tory. — A Whig Woman Refusing to Share in the Plunder.— Rumor 
of Tarleton's Approach.— Burial of the Whig and Tory Dead.— 
Treatment of Ferguson Considered. — Re-Interment of Remains. — 
March of the Army.— Death of Col. Williams.— Camp at Broad 
River.— Williams' Burial.— Discovery of his Long- Forgotten Grave. 
— Six Tory Brothers Escape. — Notice of Colonel Walker. — Bran- 


don's Barbarity. — Campbell Protecting the Prisoners.—Grav' s Retort 
to a Tory Vixen.— Graf s Services.— Suffering for Food.—Feedi7ig 
Prisoners on Corn and Pumpkins. — Billeting the Wounded.— March 
to Bickerstaff's Old Field. 


October— November, 1780. 

Colonel Campbell Denounces Plundering. — Complaints Against Tory 
Leaders.— Their Outrages on the Whigs.— A Court Called to Con- 
sider the Matter. — Retaliation for British Executions Demanded. — 
A Law Found to Meet the Case. — Charges against Mills, Gilkey, 
and McFall. — Colonel Davenport Noticed. — Number of Tories 
Tried and Cotidemned. — Case of James Crawford.- — One of the 
Prisoners Released. — Cleveland Favoring Severe Measures. — 
Motives of the Patriots Vindicated. — Shelby's Explanation. — 
Tories Executed — their names and Residence. — Paddy Carr's 
Remarks, and Notice of Him. — Baldwin's Singular Escape. — 
Further Executions Stopped. — Tories Subsequently Hung. — Rumor 
of Tarleton's Approach. — Whigs Hasten to the Catawba. — A Hard 
Day' s March — Sufferings of Patriots and Prisoners. — Major Mc- 
Dowell's Kindness. — Mrs. McDowell's Treatment of British Offi- 
cers. — Some of the Whig Troops Retire. — Disposition of the Wounded. 
—^Prisoners Escape — One Re-taken and Hing. — March to the 
Moravia7i Settlements. — Bob Powell' s Challenge. — Official Accoimt 
of the Battle Prepared. — Campbell and Shelby Visit Getteral Gates. 
■ — Cleveland Left in Command. — His Trial of Tories. — Escape of 
Green a7td Langum. — Cleveland Assaults Doctor fohnsoti. — Colonel 
Armstroftg Succeeds to the Command. — Escape of British Officers. 


October— December, 1780. 

Disposition of King's Mountain Prisoners. — Proposition to Enlist Them 
— Needed for Exchange. — Congress refers the Matter to the States 
where the Prisoners Belong. — How They Dwindled Away. — Colonel 
Arjftstrong Blamed. — Renuiant Confined at Salisbury. — DePeyster 
and Ryerson Paroled. — A Plucky Band of Whigs Scare a Large 
Tory Party. — Tarleton Frustrates Cornwallis' Design of Relieving 
Fe?guson. — Intercepting Fergusons Messengers. — Tarleton at 


Length in Motion. — His Instructions. — Effect of King s Mountain 
Victory. — Ewin and Barry Alarm the Neutrals and they Alarm 
Coniwallis. — Crowning of David Knox. — Cornwallis flees to South 
Carolina, with the Imaginary Mountaineers in Pursuit. — A Tricky 
Guide Misleading the Retiring Troops. — A Panic. — Illness of Corn- 
wallis. — Sickness and Fatality among the Troops. — Privations and 
Sufferings of the Petrogradcrs.—Aid Rendered by the Tories.— 
Nmety Six Safe. — Cornwallis Threatens Retaliation for Execution 
of King' s Mountain Prisoners. — Gates and Randall on the Sittta- 
tion. — The (Juestion Met by Geticral Greene. — Corn-wallis Drops the 
Matter. — 'Case of Adam Ciisack. — The IVidows and Orphans of 
Ninety Six District. — Good Words for King's Mountain Victory. — 
Gates Thanks the Victors. — Washington Takes Courage. — Resolves 
of Congress. — Greene and Lee Commend the Mountaineers. — Lossing, 
Bancroft, and Irving on the Result. — The British Leaders Recognize 
the Disastrous Effects of Ferguson's Miscarriage. — Gates and Jef- 
ferson's Encomiums. — King's Mountain Paves the Way for York- 
town and Independence. 


Gen. 'William Campbell. 

His Scotch-Irish Ancestry. — His Father an Early Holstoji Explorer. — 
William Campbell' s Birth and Education. — Settles on Holston. — A 
Captain on Dunmore' s Campaign. — Raised a Company for the first 
Virginia Regiment in 1773. — Return for the Defense of the Fron- 
tiers. — His Military Appointitients. — Rencounter with and Hanging 
of the Bandit Hopkijis. — Suppressing Tories up New River. — 
King's Moimtain Expedition — his Bravery Vindicated. — Public 
Thanks for his Services. — Marches to Long Island of Holston. — 
At Whitzell's Mills and Guilford. — Resigyis from Ill-treatment. — 
Made Brigadier-General. — Serves tinder La Fayette. — Death and 
Character. — Notices of his King' s Mountain Officers. 


Cols. Shelby and Sevier, and their Officers. 

Notice of Evan Shelby. — Isaac Shelby's Life and Services. — Officers 
under him at King' s Mountain — Evan Shelby, fr. — Gilbert Chris- 
tian — Moses Shelby — fames Elliott — John Sawyers — George Max- 
well, and George Rictledge. — John Sevier's Life and Services. — 
His King' s Mountain Officers — Jonathan Tipton — Valentine and 
Robert Sevier — Christopher Taylor — Jacob Brown — Samuel Weir. 



Col. Ben. Cleveland, Maj. Joseph "Winston and their 


Cleveland's Ancestry. — His Early Life and Hunting Adventures. — 
Trip to Kentucky.— Elk Hunt and Narrow Escapes. — Revolution- 
ary War. — Suppressing Scotch Tories. — Rutherford' s Cherokee 
Campaign. — Marches to Watauga. — Appointed Colo7iel. — Serves in 
Georgia. — New River Scout. — King's Mountain. — Hangs Coyle 
and Brown. — Captured by Tories and his Rescue. — Riddle and 
Wells Hung. — Other Tory Brigands Taken — Nichols, Tate, and 
Harrison. — Thumbing the Notch. — Reforming Tories. — Removes to 
Tugalo. — Hangs Dinkins. — Appointed Judge. — Anecdote. — Great 
Size, Death, and Character. 

Major Joseph Winston Noticed. — Be7i. Herndon. — Micajah and Joel 
Lewis. — Robert and John Cleveland. — Jesse Franklin. — William 
I^noir — John Barton — William Meredith, and Minor Smith. — 
John Brown and Samuel Johnson. — David and John Wither- 
spoon. — Jo. Herndon, Richard Allen, and Elisha Reynolds. 


Laeey and Other "Whigs. — British and Tory Leaders. 

Lacey, Hawthorne, Tate, and Moffett. — Williams, Hammond, Hayes, 
Dillard, Thompson, and Candler. — Brandon, Steen, and Roebuck. — 
Maj. McDowell, Capt. McDowell, Kennedy, Va7ice, and Wood. — 
Hampton, Singleton, Porter, Withrow, Miller, and Watson. — 
Hambright, Grahain, Chronicle, Dickson, Johnston, White, 
Espey, Martin, and Mattocks. — British and Tory Leaders. 


Allaire's Diary, and Other British Accounts. — Letters of Williams, 
Davidson, and Gates. — Gates' Thanks to the Victors. — Official Re- 
port of King' s Mountain. — -Shelby's and Catnpbe It's Letters. — Wash- 
ington's General Order. — Arthur Campbell and Unknown Writer's 
Statements. — Col. Campbell's General Orders. — Thanks of Virginia 
Legislature. — Lee and Greene's Letters. — LaFayette on Campbells 
Death. — Monroe's Letter. — Robert Campbell, Shelby, Graham, 
Lenoir, and Sharp's Naratives. — " Narrator' s" Charge. — Shelby 
and Sevier's Correspondence. — Shelby's Pamphlet. — Synopsis of Re- 
joinders. — Various Certificates Vindicating Col. Campbell. — Old 
Ballads. — Index. 


176S to May, 1780. 

Causes of the Revolution— Alternate Successes and Disasters of the 
Early Campaigns of the War— Siege and Reduction of Charleston. 

For ten years before the outbreak of the American Revo- 
lution, the great question oi taxation witJiout representation 
agitated the minds of the American people. They rejected 
the stamps, because they implied a tax ; they destroyed .^^; 
the tea, because it imposed a forced levy upon them without;. 
their consent, to gratify the insatiate demands of their trans- 
Atlantic sovereign, and his tyrannical Ministry and Parlia- 
ment. Should they basely yield one of their dearest rights, 
they well judged they might be required, httle by little, to 
yield all. They, therefore, manfully resisted these invasions 
as unbecoming a free people. 

When, in 1775, Great Britain determined to enforce her 
obnoxious laws, the people, under their chosen leaders, 
seized their arms, forsook their homes and families, and 
boldly asserted their God-given rights. A long and embit- 
tered contest was commenced, involving mighty interests. 
Freedom was threatened — an empire was at stake. Sturdy 
blows were given and received, with various results. The 
lirst year of the war, the Americans beat back the British 
from Lexington and Concord, and captured Crown Point, 
but were worsted at Bunker Plill ; they captured Chambl}- 
and St. Johns, and repulsed the enemy near Longueil, but 
the intrepid Montgomery failed to take Quebec, losing his 
life in the effort. 

The second year of the contest, which brought forth the 
immortal Declaration of Independence, proved varying in 



its fortunes. The Scotch Tories in North Carolina were 
signally defeated at Moore's Creek, and the British, long 
cooped up in Boston, were compelled to evacuate the place ; 
and were subsequently repulsed at Sullivan's Island, near 
Charleston ; while the Americans, on the other hand, were 
defeated at the Cedars, and were driven from Montreal, 
Chambly and St. Johns, worsted at Long Island and White 
Plains, and lost Fort Washington, on the Hudson. Mean- 
while the frontier men of Virginia, the Carolinas, East Ten- 
nessee, and Georgia, carried on successful expeditions against 
the troublesome Cherokees, whom British emissaries had in- 
veigled into hostilities against their white neighbors. 

Yet the year closed with gloomy prospects — despair sat 
on many a brow, and saddened many a heart — the main 
army was greatly reduced, and the British occupied New 
York, and the neighboring Province of New Jersey. Wash- 
ington made a desperate venture, crossing the Delaware 
amid floating ice in December, attacking and defeating the 
unsuspecting enemy at Trenton ; and, pushing his good 
fortune, commenced the third j'ear of the war, 1777, by 
securing a victory at Princeton. While the enemy were, for 
a while, held at bay at the Red Bank, yet the results of 
the contests at Brand3-wine and Germantown were not 
encouraging to the American arms, and the British gained 
a firm foot-hold in Philadelphia. And subsequently they 
captured Forts Clinton and Montgomer}', on the Hudson. 

Farther north, better success attended the American 
arms. St. Leger, with a strong British and Indian force, 
laid siege to Fort Stanwix, on the Mohawk ; but after repel- 
ling a relieving party under Gen. Herkimer, he was at length 
compelled to relinquish his investiture, on learning of the 
approach of a second army of relief, retiring precipitatel}' 
from the country ; while the more formidable invading force 
under Burgoyne met with successive reverses at Benning- 
ton, Stillwater, and Saratoga, eventuating in its total sur- 
render to the victorious Americans. 


In June, 1778, the fourth year of the war, the British 
evacuated Philadelphia, when Washington pursued their 
retreating forces, overtaking and vigorously attacking them 
at Monmouth. A large Tory and Indian party defeated 
the setders, and laid waste the Wyoming settlements. As 
the result of Burgoyne's signal discomfiture, a treaty of alli- 
ance between the new Republic and France brought troops 
and fleets to the aid of the struggling Americans, and pro- 
duced some indecisive fighting on Rhode Island. 

The adventurous expedition under George Rogers Clark, 
from the valleys of Virginia and West Pennsylvania, down 
the Monongahela and Ohio, and into the country of the 
Illinois, a distance of well nigh fifteen hundred miles, 
with limited means, destitute of military stores, pack- 
horses and supplies — with only their brave hearts and 
trusty rifles, was a remarkable enterprise. Yet with all 
these obstacles, and less than two hundred men, Clark fear- 
lessly penetrated the western wilderness, killing his game 
by the way, and conquered those distant settlements. 
Though regarded at the time as a herculean undertaking, 
and a most successful adventure, yet none foresaw the 
mighty influence it was destined to exert on the subsequent 
progress and extension of the Republic. 

Varied fortunes attended the military operations of 1779, 
the fifth year of the strife. The gallant Clark and his intre- 
pid followers, marched in winter season, from Kaskaskia 
across the submerged lands of the Wabash, sometimes wad- 
ing up to their arm-pits in water, and breaking the ice before 
them, surprised the garrison at Vincennes, and succeeded 
in its capture. The British force in Georgia, having defeated 
General Ashe at Brier creek, projected an expedition against 
Charleston, and progressed as far as Stono, whence they 
were driven back to Savannah, where the combined French 
and Americans were subsequently repulsed, losing, among 
others, the chivalrous Count Pulaski. At the North, Stony 
Point was captured at the point of the bayonet, and Paulus 


Hook surprised ; while General Sullivan's well-appointed 
army over-ran the beautiful covintry of the Six Nations, 
destroying their villages, and devastating their fields, as a 
retributive chastisement for their repeated invasions of the 
Mohawk and Minisin settlements, and laying waste the 
lovely vale of W3'oming. 

The war had now dragged its slow length along for five 
successive campaigns, and the British had gained but few 
permanent foot-holds in the revolted Colonies. Instead of 
the prompt and easy conquest they had promised themselves, 
they had encountered determined opposition wherever they 
had shown the red cross of St. George, or displayed their 
red-coated soldiery. Repeated defeats on the part of the 
Americans had served to inure them to the hardships of 
war, and learned them how to profit by their experiences and 

New efforts were demanded on the part of the BritisTi 
Government to subdue their rebellious subjects ; and South. 
Carolina was chosen as the next field of extensive opera- 
tions. Sir Henry Clinton, who had met so signal a repulse 
at Charleston in 1776, and in whose breast still rankled the 
mortifying recollections of that memorable failure, resolved 
to head in person the new expedition against the Palmetto 
Colony, and retrieve, if possible, the honor so conspicu- 
ously tarnished there on his previous unfortunate enterprise. 

Having enjoyed the Christmas holiday of 1779 in New 
York harbor. Sir Plenry, accompanied by Lord Cornwallis, 
sailed from Sandy Hook the next day with the fleet under 
Admiral Arbuthnot, transporting an army of over seven 
thousand five hundred men. Some of the vessels, however, 
were lost by the way, having encountered stormy weather 
in the gulf-stream — one bark, carrying Hessian troops, was 
dismasted and driven across the ocean, an ordnance vessel 
was foundered, while several transports were captured by 
bold and adventurous American privateers, and most of the 
horses for the expedition perished. The place of rendez- 


vous was at Tybee Bay, near the entrance to Savannah 
river, whence Clinton, on his way towards Charleston, was 
joined by the troops in Georgia, making his force nine 
thousand strong, besides the sailors in the fleet ; but to ren- 
der his numbers invincible beyond all peradventure, he at 
once ordered from New York Lord Rawdon's brigade, 
amounting to about two thousand five hundred more. 

Charleston, against which this formidable British force 
was destined, was an opulent city of some fifteen thousand 
people, white and black, and was garrisoned by less than 
four thousand men — not near enough to properly man the 
extended works of defence, of nearly three miles in circum- 
ference, as they demanded. Governor Rutledge, a man 
of unquestioned patriotism, had conferred upon him by the 
Legislature, in anticipation of this threatened attack, dicta- 
torial powers, vi^ith the admonition, " to do every thing 
necessary for the public good ; " but he was, nevertheless, 
practically powerless. He had few or none of the sinews 
of war ; and so depreciated had become the currency of 
South Carolina, that it required seven hundred dollars to 
purchase a pair of shoes for one of her needy soldiers. The 
defeat of the combined French and American force at Savan- 
nah the preceding autumn, in which the South Carolinians 
largely participated, had greatly dispirited the people ; and 
the Governor's appeal to the militia produced very little effect. 
The six old South Carolina regiments had been so depleted 
by sickness and the casualties of war as to scarcely number 
eight hundred, all told ; and the defence of the citjf was 
committed to these brave men, the local militia, and a few 
regiments of Continental troops — the latter reluctantly 
spared by Washington from the main army, and which, ho 
thought, was " putting much to nazard" in an attempt to 
defend the city, and the result proved his military foresight. 
It would have been wiser for General Lincoln and his 
troops to have retired from the place, and engaged in a 
Fabian warfare, harassing the enemy's marches by ambus- 


cades, and cutting off his foraging parties ; but the leading 
citizens of Charleston, relying on their former success, 
urged every argument in their power that the city should be 
defended to the last extremity. Yet no experienced En- 
gineer regarded the place as tenable. 

On the eleventh of February, 1780, the British forces 
landed on St. John's Island, within thirty miles of Charles- 
ton, subsequently forming a depot, and building fortifications, 
at Wappoo, on James' Island ; and, on the twenty-sixth of 
that month, they gained a distant view of the place and har- 
bor. The dreaded day of danger approached nearer and 
nearer ; and on the twenty-seventh, the officers of the Con- 
tinental squadron, which carried one hundred and fifty guns, 
reported their inabilit}^ to guard the harbor at the bar, where 
the best defence could be made ; and " then," as Washington 
expressed it, "the attempt to defend the town ought to have 
been relinquished." But no such thought was entertained. 
Every thing was done, that could be done, to strengthen 
and extend the lines of defence, dig ditches, erect redoubts 
and plant abatis, with a strong citadel in the center.* 

Preparations, too, were steadily progressing on the part 
of the enemy. On the twenty-fourth of March, Lord Corn- 
wallis and a Hessian officer were seen with their spy- 
glasses making observations ; and on the twenty-ninth, the 
British passed Ashley river, breaking ground, on the first 
of April, at a distance of eleven hundred yards from the 
American lines. At successive periods they erected five 
batteries on Charleston Neck. 

Late in the evening of March thirtieth, General Charles 

=:= There was published, first in a Williamsburgh, Va., paper of April 8th, 1780, copied 
i ito Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet of April i8th, and into the New York Royal Gazette of 
same date, an account of a Colonel Hamilton Callendine having made drawings of Charleston 
and its fortifications, was directing his course to the enemy, when an American picket 
guard sent out to Stono, captured him; he, thereupon, exhibited his drafts, supposing that 
the party belonged to the British army. They soon disabused him of his error, carried 
him to General Lincoln, who ordered him for execution, and he was accordingly hanged on 
the 5th of March, As none of the South Carolina historians, nor any of the Charleston 
diarists or letter-writers during the siege, make the slightest reference to any such person 
or circumstance, there could have been no foundation for the story. 


Scott, commanding one of the Virginia Continental bri- 
gade, arrived, accompanied by his staff, and some other 
officers. "The next morning," says Major Croghan, "I 
accompanied Generals Lincoln and Scott to view the batteries 
and works arovmd town ; found those on the Cooper river side 
in pretty good order, and chiefly manned by sailors ; but the 
greater part of the remainder not complete, and stood in 
need of a great deal of work. General Scott was very par- 
ticular in inquiring of General Lincoln as to the quantity of 
provisions in the garrison, when the General informed him 
there were several months' suppl}^ by a return he had re- 
ceived from the Commissary. General Scott urged the 
necessity of having officers to examine it, and, as he ex- 
pressed it,_/br them to lay their hatids on it."* 

A sortie was planned on the fourth of April, to be com- 
inanded by General Scott — one battalion led by Colonel 
Clarke and Major Hogg, of North Carolina ; another by 
Colonel Parker and Major Croghan, of Virginia, and the 
light infantry by Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens ; but the wind 
proved unfavorable, which prevented the shipping from 
going up Town creek, to fire on the enemy, and give the 
sallying party such assistance as they might be able to ren- 
der, and thus it failed of execution. General Woodford's 
Virginia brigade of Continentals arrived on the sixth, and 
some North Carolina militia under the command of Colonel 
Harrington. They were greeted by the firing of a yeu de 
joie, and the ringing of the bells all night. f 

Admiral Arbuthnot's near approach to the bar, on the 
seventh of April, induced Commodore Whipple, who com- 
manded the American naval force, to retire without firing a 
gun, first to Fort Moultrie, and afterward to Charleston ; and 
the British fleet passed the fort without stopping to engage 
it — the passage having been made, says the New Jersey 

"MS. Journal of Major William Croghan, of the Virginia Line. Siege of Charles- 
ton, 123. 

\ Croghan's MS. Journal. 


Gazette,'^ while a severe thunder storm was raging, which 
caused the ships to be " invisible near half the time of their 
passing." Colonel Charles C. Pinckney, who commanded 
there, with three hundred men, kept up a heavy cannon- 
ade on the British ships during their passage, which was 
returned by each of the vessels as they passed — the enemy 
losing fourteen men killed, and fifteen wounded, while not 
a man was hurt in the garrison. f One ship had its fore- 
topmast shot away, and others sustained damage. The 
Acteus transport ran aground near Haddrell's Point, when 
Captain Thomas Gadsden, a brother of Colonel Gadsden, 
who was detached with two iield pieces for the purpose, fired 
into her with such effect, that the crew set her on fire, and 
retreated in boats to the other vessels. The Royal fleet, in 
about two hours, came to anchor within long shot of the 
American batteries. 

By the tenth of April, the enemj' had completed their 
first parallel, when Clinton and Arbuthnot summoned the 
town to surrender. Lincoln answered : "From duty and 
inclination I sh'all support the town to the last extremity." 
A severe skirmish had previously taken place between 
Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens and the advance guard of 
the enemy, in which the Americans lost Captain Bowman 
killed, and Major Hyrne and seven privates wounded. On the 
twelfth, the batteries on both sides were opened, keeping up 
an almost incessant fire. The British had the decided ad- 
vantage in the number and strength of their mortars and 
royals, having twenty-one, while the Americans possessed 
only two ;]: and the lines of the latter soon began to crumble 
under the powerful and constant cannonade maintained 
against them. On the thirteenth. Governor Rutledge was 

* May i2th, 1780. 

t Croghan's MS. Journal. 

I Such is the statement of Dr. Ramsay, who was present during the siege. The 
British official returns show nine mortars, ranging from four to ten-inch caliber, and one 
eight-inch howitzer, surrendered at Charleston, and a ten-inch mortar taken at Fort Moul- 
trie; but probably the most of these were either unfit for use, or more likely, the limited 
quantity of shells enabled the defenders to make use of only two of this class of ordnance. 


persuaded to withdraw from the garrison, while exit was 
yet attainable, leaving Lieutenant-Governor Gadsden with 
five members of the Council. 

On the same day. General Lincoln, in a council of war, 
revealed to its members his want of resources, and suggested 
an evacuation. " In such circumstances," said General Mc- 
intosh, " we should lose not an hour in attempting to get 
the Continental troops, at least, over Cooper river ; for on 
their safety, depends the salvation of the State." But Lin- 
coln only wished them to give the matter mature consider- 
ation, and he would consult them further about it. Before 
he met them again, the American cavalry at Monk's Corner, 
which had been relied on to keep open the communication 
between the city and the country, were surprised and dis- 
persed on the fourteenth ; and five days later, the expected 
British reinforcements of two thousand five hundred men 
arrived from New York, when Clinton was enabled more 
completely to environ the devoted city, and cut ofi'all chance 
of escape. 

A stormy council was held on the nineteenth, when the 
heads of the several military departments reported their 
respective conditions — of course, anything but flattering in 
their character. Several of the members still inclined to an 
evacuation, notwithstanding the increased difliiculties of 
effecting it since it was first suggested. In the midst of the 
conference, Lieutenant-Governor Gadsden happened to come 
in — whether by accident, or design, was not known — and 
General Lincoln courteously proposed that he be allowed t(^ 
take part in the council. He appeared surprised and dis- 
pleased that a thought had been entertained of either evacu- 
ation or capitulation, and acknowledged himself entirely 
ignorant of the state of the provisions, etc., but would con- 
sult his Council in regard to the proposals suggested. 

In the evening, an adjourned meeting was held, when 
Colonel Laumoy, of the engineer department, reported the 
insufficiency of the fortifications, the improbability of holding 


out many daj-s longer, and the impracticability of making 
a retreat ; and closed by suggesting that terms of honorable 
capitulation be sought from the enemy. Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor Gadsden, with four of his Councilors, coming in shortly 
after, treated the military gentlemen very rudely, the Lieut- 
enant-Governor declaring that he would protest against their 
proceedings ; that the militia were willing to live upon rice 
alone, rather than give up the town on any terms ; and that 
even the old women had become so accustomed to the ene- 
my's shot, that they traveled the streets without fear or 
dread ; but if the council were determined to capitulate, he 
had his terms ready in his pocket. 

Mr. Thomas Ferguson, one of the Councilors, declared 
that the inhabitants of the city had observed the boats col- 
lected to carr}- off the Continental troops ; and that they 
would keep a good watch upon the army, and should any 
attempt at evacuation ever be made, he would be among 
the first to open the gates for the admission of the enemy, 
and assist thern in attacking the retiring troops Colonel C. 
C. Pinckney soon after came in abruptly — probably having 
been apprised by the Lieutenant-Governor of the subject 
under discussion — and, forgetting his usual politeness, ad- 
dressed General Lincoln with great warmth, and in much the 
same strain as General Gadsden, adding that those who were 
for business needed no council, and that he came over on 
purpose from Fort Moultrie, to prevent any terms being 
offered to the enemy, or any evacuation of the garrison at- 
tempted ; and particularly charged Colonel Laumoy and his 
department with being the sole authors and promoters of 
such proposals.* 

It is very certain, that these suggestions of evacuation or 
capitulation, occasioned at the time great discontent among 
both the regulars and militia, who wished to defend the city 

*The details of this military council are taken from Major Crochan's MS. Journal ; and 
from Gener,ilMc'ntosh's Journal, published entire in the Mngnrtlm Masrmntt. Dec. 1842. and 
cited in Simms' South Carolina in the Revolution, 127-129, both of which are in this case 
identical in language. 


to the last extremity ; and who resolved, in view of continu- 
ing the defence, that they would be content, if necessary, 
with only half rations daily.* All these good people had 
their wishes gratified — the siege was procrastinated, and 
many an additional death, suffering, sorrow, and anguish, 
were the consequence. 

General Lincoln must have felt hurt, it not sorely nettled, 
by these repeated insults — as General Mcintosh acknowl- 
edges that he did. Wlien matters of great public concern 
result disastrously, scape-goats are always sought, and all 
participants are apt to feel more or less unamiable and 
fault-finding on such occasions. Or, as Washington ex- 
pressed it, referring to another affair, "mutual reproaches 
too often follow the failure of enterprises depending upon the 
cooperation of troops of different grades." Looking at these 
bickerings in the light of history, a century after their oc- 
currence, one is struck with General Lincoln's magnanimous 
forbearance, when he confessedly made great sacrifices in 
defending the place so long against his better judgment, in 
deference to the wishes of the people, who, we may well 
conclude, were very unfit judges of military affairs. 

At another council of officers, held on the twentieth and 
twenty-first, the important subject of an evacuation was again 
under deliberation ; and the conclusion reached was, " that it 
was unadvisable, because of the opposition made to it by 
the civil authority and the inhabitants, and because, even if 
they should succeed in defeating a large body of the enemy 
posted in their way, they had not a sufficiency of boats to 
cross the Santee before they might be overtaken by the 
whole British army."f It was then proposed to give Sir 

'■=MS. letter of John Lewis Gervais, cited in Simms. 129. 

f The enemy were constantly on the watch for any attempted evacuation on the part 
of the Americans. Capt J. R. Rousselet, of Tarleton's cavalry, has left this MS. note, 
written on the margin of a copy of Steadman's American War, referring to the closing 
period of the siege: " Some small vessels, taken from the Americans, were armed, manned 
with troops, and stationed off Town Creek, to prevent the escape of the garrison should 
they attempt to evacuate the town by that channel. Capt. Rousselet commanded an 
armed sloop, with his company o-a. board, under Capt. Salisbury, Royal Navy." 


Henry Clinton quiet possession of the city, with its fortifi- 
cations and dependencies, on condition that the security of 
the inhabitants, and a safe, unmolested retreat for the gar- 
rison, w'lXh baggage and field pieces, to the north-east of 
Charleston should be granted. These terms were instantly 
rejected. On searching every house in town, it was found 
that the private supplies of provisions were as nearly ex- 
hausted as were the public magazines. 

On the twenty-fourth, at daybreak, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Henderson sallied out with two hundred men, chiefly from 
Generals Woodford's and Scott's brigades, surprising and 
vigorously attacking the advance flanking party of the 
enemj% bayoneting fifteen of them in their trenches, and 
capturing a dozen prisoners, of whom seven were wounded, 
losing in the brilliant affair, the brave Captain Thomas Gads- 
den and one or two privates. A considerable body of the 
enemj', under Major Hall, of the seventy-fourth regiment, 
attempted to support the party in the trenches ; but were 
obliged to retire on receiving a shower of grape from the 
American batteries.* A successful enterprise of this kind 
proved onl}' a momentarj^ advantage, having no perceptible 
influence on the final result. 

It is said Colonel C. C. Pinckney, and Lieutenant-Colonel 
Laurens, assured General Lincoln they could supply the gar- 
rison with plenty of beef from Lempriere's Point, if they were 
permitted to remain on that side of Cooper river with the force 
then under their command ; upon which the Commissary was 
ordered to issue a full allowance again. But unfortunately 
the first and only cattle butchered at Lempriere's for the use 
of the garrison were altogether spoiled through neglect or 
mismanagement before they came over. These gentlemen, 
are said, also, to have promised that the communication on 
the Cooper side could, and would, be kept open. Being in- 
habitants of Charleston, and knowing the country well, per- 
haps the General, with some reason, might be inclined to the 

*Croghan's MS. Journal. 


same opinion ; and besides furnishing the garrison with beef, 
they were to send a sufficient number of negroes over to 
town for the militarj^ works, who were much wanted. But 
Colonel Pinckney with the greater part, or almost the whole 
of his first South Carolina regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel 
Laurens with the light infantry were recalled from Fort Moul- 
trie and Lempriere's * — and thus ended this spasmodic hope. 
Probabl}' this failure caused a strict search to be made, 
about this time, in the houses of the citizens for provisions ; 
"■ some was found," says Major Croghan, " but a much less 
quantitjr than was supposed." 

The Americans were not slow in perceiving the utter 
hopelessness of their situation. On the twenty -sixth, General 
DuPortail, an able French officer and Engineer-in-Chief 
of the American army, arrived from Philadelphia, having 
been sent by Washington to supervise the engineer depart- 
ment. He frankly informed General Lincoln that there was 
no prospect of getting any reinforcements very soon from the 
grand army — that Congress had proposed to General Wash- 
ington to send the Maryland Line to their relief, f As soon 
as General DuPortail came into the garrison, examined the 
military works, and observed the enemy, he declared the 
defences were not tenable — that they were only field lines ; 
and that the British might have taken the place ten days ago. 
" I found the town," wrote DuPortail to Washington, " in 
a desperate state. "| He wished to leave the garrison imme- 
diately, whileitwas possible ; but General Lincoln would not 
allow him to do so, as it would dispirit the troops. On 
learning General DuPortail' s opinion, acouncilwas called the 
same day, and a proposition made for the Continental troops 
to make anightretreat ; and when the citizens were informed 
of the subject under deliberation, some of them came into 
the council, warmly declaring to General Lincoln, thatif he 
attempted to withdraw the troops and abandon the citizens, 

* Croghan's MS. Journal ; and Mcintosh's Diary. 

t Croghan's MS. Journal. 

} Letters to Washington, ii, 450. 


they would cut up his boats, and open the gates to the enemy. 
This put an end to all further thoughts of an evacuation.* 

As late as the twenty-eighth, a supernumerary officer 
left town to join the forces in the country ; but the next day the 
small party remaining at Lempriere's Point was recalled, 
the enemy at once occupying it with a large force ; and thus 
the last avenue between the city and country was closed. 
General Lincoln informed the general officers, privately, this 
day, that he intended the horn work as a place of retreat 
for the whole army in case they were driven from the lines. 
General Mcintosh observing to him the impossibility of those 
then stationed at South Bay and Ashley river, in such a 
contingency, being able to retreat there, he replied that they 
might secure themselves as best they could. And on the 
thirtieth, in some way, Governor Rutledge managed to con- 
vey a letter to General Lincoln, upon which the General con- 
gratulated the army, in general orders, on ;^car2'M_§-of a large 
reinforcement, which may again open the communication 
with the country. f It was the old story of drowning men 
catching at straws. 

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the daily details of the 
protracted siege. Some of the more unusual occurrences 
only need be briefly noticed, so that we may hasten on to the 
melancholy catastrophe. Eleven vessels were sunk in the 
channel to prevent the Royal fleet from passing up Cooper 
river, and enfilading the American lines on that side of the 
place ; while a frigate and two galleys were placed above 
the sunken obstructions, to cooperate with the shore batter- 
ies in thwarting any attempt on the part of the enemy for 
their removal. 

But the work of destruction went steadily on. Cannon 
balls hy day and by night went streaking through the air, 
and crashing through the houses. One morning, a shell 
burst very near Colonel Parker, a large piece of which fell 

* Moultrie's Memoirs, i, 80. 
f Croghan's MS. Journal, 


harmless at his feet, when he said, with much composure, 
"a miss is as good as a mile;"* and, that very evening, 
while the gallant Colonel was looking over the parapet, he 
was shot dead. Shells, fire-balls, and carcasses, ingen- 
iously packed with combustibles, loaded pistol barrels, and 
other destructive missiles, were thrown into the city, setting 
many buildings on fire, and maiming and destroying not a 
few of the citizens and soldiery. On one occasion, when a 
pastor and a few worshipers, mostly women and invalids, 
were gathered in a church, supplicating the mercies of 
heaven on themselves and suffering people, a bomb-shell 
fell in the chuch-yard, when all quickly dispersed, retiring 
to their several places of abode. 

Some of the cases of fatality were quite uncommon. 
Meyer Moses' young child was killed while in the arms of 
its nurse, and the house burned down. A man and his wife 
were killed at the same time, and in the same bed. A sol- 
dier who had been relieved from serving at his post in the 
defence of the city, entered his humble domicil, and while in 
the act of embracing his anxious wife, with tears of gladness, 
a cannon ball passed through the house, killing them both 
instantly. Many sought safety in their cellars ; but even 
when protected for the moment from the constantly falling 
missiles of death and destruction, they began to suflier for 
want of food , since all the avenues to the city for country 
supplies, had been cut off. 

General Moultrie has left us a vivid picture of this period of 
the siege : "Mr. Lord and Mr. Basquin, two volunteers, were 
sleeping upon the mattress together, in the advanced redoubt, 
when Mr. Lord was killed by a shell falling upon him, and 
Mr. Basquin at the same time had the hair of his head burnt, 
and did not awake until he was aroused from his slumbers by 
his fellow soldiers. The fatigue in that advanced redoubt was 
so great for want of sleep, that many faces were so swelled 
they could scarcely see out of their eyes . I was obliged to re- 

* Virginia Gazette, May i6, 1780. 


Heve Major Mitchell, the commanding officer. They were 
constantly on the lookout for the shells that were continually 
falling among them. It was by far the most dangerous post 
on the lines. On my visit to the battery, not having been 
there for a day or two, I took the usual way of going in, 
which was a bridge that crossed our ditch, quite exposed to 
the enemy, who, in the meantime, had advanced their works 
within seventy or eighty yards of the bridge, which I did 
not know. As soon as I had stepped upon the bridge, an 
uncommon number of bullets whistled about me ; and on 
looking to my right, I could just see the heads of about 
twelve or fifteen men firing upon me from behind a breast- 
work — I moved on, and got in. When Major Mitchell saw 
me, he asked me which way I came in? I told him over 
the bridge. He was astonished, and said, ' Sir, it isathou- 
sand to one that you were not killed,' and told me that he 
had a covered waj;- through which to pass, by which he con- 
ducted me on my return. I staid in this battery about a 
quarter of an hour, giving the necessary orders, during which 
we were constantly skipping about to get out of the way of 
the shells thrown from their howitzers. They were not more 
than one hundred j'ards from our works, and were throwing 
their shells in bushels on our front and left flank."* 

Under date of the second of May, Major Croghan records 
in his Journal, which is corroborated by General Mcintosh's 
Diary, that the enem)^ threw shells charged with rice and 
sugar. Simms tells us, that tradition has it, that it was not 
rice and sugar with which the shells of the British v/ere 
thus ironically charged, but wheat flour and molasses — with 
an inscription addressed : ' ' To the Yankee officers in 
Charleston," courteously informing them that it contained a 
supply of the commodities of which they were supposed to 
stand most in need. But the garrison could still jest amid 
suffering, volcanoes and death. Having ascertained that 
the shell was sent them from a battery manned exclusively 

*Moultrie*s Memoirs^ i, 83. 


by a Scottish force, they emptied the shell of its contents ; 
and filling it with lard and sulphur, to cure them of the 
itch, and sent it back to their courteous assailants, with the 
same inscription which originally accompanied it. " It was 
understood," says Garden, " after the siege, that the note 
was received, but not with that good humor that might have 
been expected, had it been considered as aycM d''esfrit, re- 
sulting from justifiable retaliation." 

" Provisions," as we learn from Johnson's Traditions, 
"now failed among the besieged. A sufficiency had been 
provided for the occasion ; but the beef and pork had be- 
come tainted and unfit for food." But the British "were 
misinformed," says Moultrie, "if they supposed us in want 
of rice and sugar." Of the latter article, at least during 
the earlier stages of the siege, such was its plentifulness 
that it was a favorite amusement to pursue the spent hot 
shot of the enemy, in order, by flinging sugar upon the 
balls, to convert it into candy. But towards the close of 
the siege, the supply of sugar must have become limited. 
" On the fourth of May," says Major Croghan, " we received 
from the Commissary, with our usual allowance of rice, six 
ounces of extremely bad meat, and a little coftee and sugar. 
It has been very disagreeable to the northern officers and 
soldiei-s to be under the necessity of living without wheat or 
Indian bread, which has been the case during the whole 
siege." So that the Scotch jokers who sent their shot, 
laden with either rice and sugar, or flour and molasses, iron- 
ically hinting at the deficiencies of the beleaguered garri- 
son, did not, after all, hit very wide of the mark. 

Clinton, on the sixth of May, renewed his former terms 
for the surrender of the garrison. With the limited store 
of provisions on hand, with no prospects of receiving fur- 
ther supplies or reinforcements, and with the admission on 
the part of the Engineers that the lines could not be main- 
tained ten days longer, and were hable to be carried by as- 
sault at any time. General Lincoln was disposed to accept the 


terms tendered ; but he was opposed by the citizens, as they 
were required by Clinton to be prisoners on parole, when 
the}^ wished to be regarded as non-combatants, and not 
subject to the rigorous laws of war, It was only putting 
ofl' the evil day for a brief period ; and again the twenty- 
four and thirty-two pound carronades, the mortars and 
howitzers, belched forth their shot, shell and carcasses upon 
the devoted town and garrison, setting many buildings on 
fire, and keeping up the most intense excitement. So near 
were now the opposing parties, that they could speak words 
of bravado to each other ; and the rifles of the Hessian Ya- 
gers were so unerring, that a defender could no longer show 
himself above the lines with safety ; and even a hat raised 
upon a ramrod, was instantly riddled with bullets. 

Captain Hudson, of the British Navy, on the fifth of May, 
summoned Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island to surrender ; 
the larger portion of its garrison having previously retired 
to Charleston. Lieutenant-Colonel William Scott,* who com- 
manded, sent for answer a rollicking reply : "Tol, lol, de rol, 
lol — Fort Moultrie will be defended to the last extremity." 
The next day, Fludson repeated his demand, threatening that 
if he did not receive an answer in fifteen minutes, he would 
storm the fort, and put every man to the sword. Scott, it 
would seem, was at first disposed to resort to bravado of 
the "last extremity" character; but recalled the officer 
bearing it, saying on further reflection the garrison thought 
better of it — the disparity of force was far too great — and 
begging for a cessation of hostilities, proposed terms of sur- 
render, which were granted by Captain Hudson. The sur- 
render formally took place on the seventh. f Thus the historic 

* Scott was a brave, experienced officer. He served as a Captain during the attack on 
Charleston, in 1776, and died in that city in June, 1807. 

I Gordon's History 0/ the Revolutioji, iii, 354; i\Ioultrie's Memoirs, ii, 84; Ramsay's 
Revolution in South Carolina, ii, 56, Bancroft, a, 305, and others, give May 6th as the date 
of surrender, but that the 7th was the true date of this occurrence mr.y be seen by com. 
paring Tarleton's Cajnpai^n, 53-55; Botta's Revohition, New Haven edition, 1842, ii, 249; 
Johnson's Traditions, 259; Pimms' South Carolina in the Revolution, 146; and Siege 0/ 
Charleston. Munsell, 1867, p. 167. 


Fort Moultrie, which four years before had signally repulsed 
a powerful British fleet under Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, 
now surrendered to the enemy without firing a gun. 

The seventh of May was further noted by an unfortunate 
disaster — the partial destrucdon of the principal magazine 
of the garrison, by the bursdng of a shell. General Moultrie 
had most of the powder — ten thousand pounds — removed to 
the north-east corner of the exchange, where it was carefully 
bricked up, and remained undiscovered by the Bridsh durino- 
the two years and seven months they occupied the cAy. 

Another summons was sent in by Clinton on the eighth a 

truce was granted till the next day ; when Lincoln endeav- 
ored to secure the militia from being considered as prisoners 
of war, and the protecdon of the citizens of South Carohna 
in their lives and property, with twelve months allowance 
of time in which to determine whether to remain under 
■British rule, or dispose of their efiects and remove else- 
where. These articles were promptly rejected, with the 
announcement on the part of Clinton that hostilities would 
be re-commenced at eight o'clock that evening. 

"After receiving his letter," says Moultrie, "we re- 
mained near an hour silent, all calm and ready, each wait- 
ing for the other to begin. At length, we fired the first gun, 
and immediately followed a tremendous cannonade — about 
one hundred and eighty, or two hundred pieces of heavy 
cannon were discharged at the same moment. The mortars 
from both sides threw out an immense number of shells. It 
was a glorious sight to see them, like meteors, crossing 
each other, and bursting in the air. It appeared as if the 
stars were tumbling down. The fire was incessant almost 
the whole night, cannon balls whizzing, and shells hissing, 
continually among us, ammunition chests and temporary 
magazines blowing up, great guns bursting, and wounded 
men groaning along the lines. It was a dreadful night ! It 
was our last great effort, but it availed us nothing. After it, 
our military ardor was much abated, and we began to cool.'' 


When, on the eleventh of May, the British had crossed the 
wet ditch by sap, and were within twenty-five yards of the 
American lines, all farther defense was hopeless. The militia 
refused to do duty.* It was no longer a question of expedi- 
ency ; but stern necessity demanded a speedy surrender, and 
the stoppage of farther carnage and suffering. General Lin- 
coln had proved himself brave, judicious and unwearied in his 
exertions for three anxious months in baffling the greatl}- 
superior force of Sir Henrj^ Clinton and Admiral Arbuth- 
not. Hitherto the civil authorities, and citizens of Charles- 
ton, had stoutly contended that the city should be defended 
to the last extremity ; but now, when all hope was lost, a 
large majority of the inhabitants, and of the militia, peti- 
tioned General Lincoln to accede to the terms offered by the 
enemy. The next day articles of capitulation were signed. 

The loss of the Americans during the siege was ninety- 
eight officers and soldiers killed, and one hundred and forty- 
six wounded ; and about twenty of the citizens were killed 
by the random shots of the enemy. Upward of thirty 
houses were burned, and man}' others greatty damaged. 
Besides the Continental troops, less than two thousand, of 
whom five hundred were in hospitals, and a considerable 
number of sailors, Sir Henry Clinton managed to enumer- 
ate among the prisoners surrendered, all the free male 
adults of Charleston, including the aged, the infirm, and 
even the Loyjdists, so as to swell the number of his formid- 
able conquest. In this way, his report was made to boast 
of over five thousand six hundred prisoners, when the Loyal- 
ist portion but a few days afterwards offered their congratu- 
lations on the reduction of South Carolina. The regular 
troops and sailors became prisoners of war until exchanged ; 
the militia from the country were permitted to return home 
on parole, and to be secured in their property so long as 
their parole should be observed. 

:*Du Portail to Washington, May 17th, 1780. 



May, 1780. 

Further Incidents Connected with the Siege. — Tyranny of the British 
leaders. — Subjugation of South Carolina. 

A sad accident occurred shortly after the surrender. 
The arms taken from the troops and inhabitants, amounting 
to some five thousand, were lodged in a laboratorj^, near a 
large quantity of cartridges and loose powder. A number 
of the British officers desiring some of the handsome mounted 
swords and pistols, went to the place of deposit to select 
such as pleased their fancy, when through cai-elessness in 
snapping the guns and pistols, the loose powder was ig- 
nited, which communicated to the cartridges, blew up the 
building, and, in an instant, guards, officers, arms, colors, 
drums and fifes were sent high into the air — the mangled 
bodies of the victims were dashed by the violent explosion 
against the neighboring houses, and, in one instance, against 
the steeple of a contiguous church edifice. The work-house, 
jail, and old barracks were destroyed. Captain CoUins, 
Lieutenants Gordon and McLeod, together with some fifty 
of the British guard, and upward of fifty of the citizens, lost 
their lives by this unhappy occurrence.* 

It is a singular fact, that at least during a portion of the 
siege, Major John Andrd, Deputy Adjutant-General of the 
British army, managed in some way to get into the city, 
and made his home with Edward Shrewsberry, on the east 
side of East Bay street. William Johnson, a prominent 
Whig, and others, saw the young man at Shrewsberry's 
dressed in plain homespun ; and were told that he was a 

* Ramsay's Revolution, ii, 62-63 i Moultrie's Memoirs ii, 109-112 ; Pennsylvania Journal, 
July 5th, 1780; Simms' South Carolina in the Revolution, 156-157; Mackenzie's Strictures, 34. 


back countryman, connected with the Virginia troops, and 
had brought down cattle for the garrison. By this cattle- 
drover ruse, he probably gained access to the city. He 
was, of course, there tor a purpose — to make observations, 
and gain intelligence, and in some secret way, communicate 
the result to Sir Henry Clinton The historian, Ramsay, 
who was pres.ent during the siege, admits that there were 
secret friends of the Royal Government in the city, foment- 
ing disaffection, and working on the fears of the timid ; and 
Moultrie, another eye-witness, tells us that when the British 
marched in, to take possession of the city. Captain Roch- 
fort said to him, " Sir, you have made a gallant defence; 
but you had a great many rascals among you, (and men- 
tioned names,) who came out every night and gave us in- 
formation of what was passing in your garrison."* 

Stephen Shrewsberry becoming sick, stopped with his 
brother Edward awhile, and repeatedly saw Andrd there — 
of course, bearing some assumed name ; and after his re- 
covery, and the surrender of the city, he was introduced to 
the same person at his brother's as Major Andr^. Stephen 
Shrewsberry mentioned this singular circumstance to his 
brother Edward, who frankly acknowledged that he was 
the same person ; but asserted his own ignorance of it at the 
time of his brother's illness. Marion's men subsequent])' 
sought the life of Edward Shrewsberrj^, charging him with 
treachery to the American cause ; but he survived the war, 
leaving a daughter, a very amiable lady, who lived till 18^4, 
dying childless. 

Certain it is, that Andrd was the devoted friend and pro- 
tegd of Sir Henry Clinton, who made him his Aid, and pro- 
moted him to the position of Deputv Adjutant-General of the 
British army in America ; and it is equally certain, as 
shown by Beatson's Memoirs, that "Adjutant-General, Ma- 
jor John Andr^ " was with the "force that embarked at 
New York under Clinton and Arbuthnot." Tarleton shows 

* Ramsay's Revolution, ii, 58; Moultrie's Meinoivs, ii, 108. 


that Andre was performing service in front of Charleston 
prior to Arbuthnot's passage of Fort Moultrie early in April ; 
a letter of Andrd's is in print, dated at " Headquarters, be- 
fore Charleston," on the thirteenth of April, 1780, while 
^the schedule of Charleston prisoners, in May, was reported 
by him in his official capacity — all going to show, beyond a 
question, that he was at or near Charleston during the whole 
period of its investment. It was far less dangerous for him 
to pass to and from the city during the siege, than it was to 
visit West Point on his subsequent mission to tempt the 
Judas of the American Revolution. 

However fascinating his talents and deportment, he was 
not entitled to the commiseration of the American people as 
an honorable but unfortunate foe. Twice he acted the part 
of an insidious spy, corrupting and deceiving with falsehoods 
and mean dissimulation; and he was twice, at least, guilty of 
theft — once while stationed in Philadelphia, plundering from 
the library of the University of Pennsylvania, a complete 
set of that valuable work, L' Encyclofcdm, received as a 
present from the French Academy of Science by the hands 
of Dr. Franklin ; on the other occasion, taking from Dr. 
Franklin's residence, which he occupied a while, a portrait 
of the philosopher.* 

An incident connected with the siege and surrender of 
Charleston, serving to illustrate the peculiarities and perils 
of the times, will very appropriately find a place here. Rev. 
Dr. Percy resided on a plantation not very far from Monk's 
Corner, with Mrs. Thomas Legard for a near neighbor. 
One day — probably the thirteenth of May — while Mrs. Le- 
gard was present, Mrs. Gibson, a poor woman, was an- 
nounced while the family and their visitor was at their meal. 
As she was usually the bearer of ill news, her visit very natur- 

* Johnson's L?7>£7/"t7rcf«^. i, note 208-209; Johnson's Traditions of the Rer'oiuiion, 
255-257; Snrgent's /-//f o/^srf'-^', 225-228; Mmon's Remeiii'tritncer. x. ^6-■JT, Dawson's 
Battles 0/ the United i. 578; Cirrinjton's B.iUles of the Re-jolution. 497; Tarlcton's 
Campaigns, 12, 64; 15eat<on's Naval and military I^re.noirs. vi, 203-204; Moore's Diary 
0/ tl-.e Revolution, ii, 484; and Lossing's Field Booli o/the Revolution, ii, 104. 


ally excited the anxiet}- of all. She exclaimed, " Good morn- 
ing people ; ha\'e you heard the news ? Charleston has fallen, 
and the devilish British soldiers have cut to pieces all the 
men, all the cats, all the dogs, and now they are coming to 
kill all the women and children." Terrified by her excited 
and incoherent statement, the ladies looked ready to faint ; 
and Dr. Percy cried out, "For shame, Mrs. Gibson ; do you 
not know that Mrs. Legare's husband and son are in 
Charleston, and you will frighten her to death by your wild 
talk." " Bless you, good woman," replied Mrs. Gibson, 
turning to Mrs. Legare, " I have a husband and four sons 
there, too, and God only knows if anv of them live." In 
the course of a few da-\'s, Mrs. Gibson received the sad in- 
telligence that her husband and four sons had all been killed 
during the siege.* Such are some of the vicissitudes of 

It may well be asked, wh}^ did such military men as 
Lincoln, Moultrie, Mcintosh, Scott, Woodford and others, 
sufier themselves, with a body of brave troops, to be cooped 
up in a city \\hich they were not capable of successfully de- 
fending ? At first they relied on the promises of Congress 
and the Executive authorities of North and South Carolina of 
sending near ten thousand men, one-half of whom should 
be regulars, for the defence of the place. f In the latter 
part of Februarj^ it was reported that General Hogan was 
advancing with troops from North Carolina ; that General 
Moultrie was forming a camp at Bacon's Bridge, which was 
subsequendy transferred to the command of General Huger ; 
that a thousand men were expected from General William- 
son's brigade in the region of Ninety Six ; and that the 
veteran General Richardson, and Colonel Kershaw, were 
embodying the militia of the Camden region. J General 
Richardson sickened and died ; General Moultrie from ill- 

* Howe's Hist. Presb. Ch. of South Carolina, 471. 

t Ram'^ny's Revolution, ii, 59; Gordon's American War, iii, 348; MarshaU's Washing- 
ton, iv, 141-42: 

J Colonel Laurens, ill Almon, x, 53 ; Moore's Materials /or History, 175. 


ness had to return to the city. Colonel Sumter at that time 
had no command, and Marion was hiding away for the 
recovery of a broken limb. To enthuse the militia, and 
expedite their movements, Governor Rutledge, the Patrick 
Henrjr of South Carolina, and a part of his Councilors, left 
the beleaguered city in April ; but they met with little suc- 
cess. The people relied too much upon succors from the 
North; besides, they were almost destitute of ammunition. 

Hogan's party finally reached the city ; and about that 
time another North Carolina contingent under General 
Lillington, whose term of enlistment expired, mostly 
availed themselves of their privilege and retired before the 
serious part of the siege had commenced ; and less than . 
two hundred of the South Carolina militia, probably mostly 
from the Charleston region, shared in the defence of the 
place. Congress and the States were alike crippled in 
resources, and everything moved tardily. General De Kalb 
had started, past the middle of April, with fourteen hundred 
Continentals from head quarters in New Jersey ; Colonel 
Armand's corps, and Major Nelson's horse, were on the 
way ; and, as late as the second of May, General Caswell, 
of North Carolina, had reached Lanneau's Ferry, on the 
Santee, with eight or nine hundred Continentals and militia ; 
some militia were being gathered at Orangeburg ; and Col- 
onel Buford's and Lieutenant-Colonel Porterfield's Virginia 
detachments, were within the borders of the State. Gen- 
eral Huger, with Colonel Horry's cavalry, and the remnants 
of Colonel White's and Colonel Washington's dragoons, 
were scattered somewhere about the country. There was 
no concert or unity of action, and probably not sufficient 
supplies to admit of their concentration. But all these 
hopes of succor to the suffering garrison were as illusive in 
the end as the tgnis-fatuus to the benighted traveler. 

General Lincoln was not altogether destitute of military 
supplies ; for he had four hundred pieces of ordnance of 
various caliber, for the defence of the city and the neighbor- 


ing works ; but the mortars were few, and of shell there 
would seem to have been a very limited supply. Powder 
was so plenty that there were fifty thousand pounds at the 
surrender, besides ten thousand pounds more bricked up at 
the Exchange. But even with the aid of six hundred ne- 
groes, the defensive works, from their great extent, were 
totally inadequate to the purpose ; and had there been force 
enough to have properly manned them — of which there was 
a sad deficiency — the scanty supply of provisions would 
have been all the sooner exhausted. Food supplies had 
been stored, in large quantities, to the north eastward of 
Charleston ; but from the little value of the depreciated paper 
currencjr, the want of carriages and horses, together with 
the bad condition of the roads, they could not be transported 
to town before the investiture was completed. With all 
these disappointments and discouragements, and the power- 
ful army and nav}^ with all the appliances of war, con- 
fronting them for nearly three months, it is not a little siir- 
prising that General Lincoln and his brave garrison were 
able to hold out so long. 

Nor were the whites the only sufferers. As in Prevost's 
invasion of 1779, so in Clinton's of 1780, the negro servants 
flocked in large numbers to the British army, and were 
employed in throwing up their defences and other laborious 
operations. Crowded together, they were visited by the 
camp fever ; and the small-pox, which had not been in the 
Province for seventeen years, broke out among them, and 
spread rapidly. From these two diseases, and the impos- 
sibility of their being provided with proper accommodations 
and attendance in the British encampments, they were left 
to- die in great numbers in the woods, where they remained 
unburied. A few instances occurred, in which infants were 
found in unfrequented retreats, drawing the breasts of their 
deceased mothers some time after life had expired.* 

The reduction of Charleston struck the people with pro- 

* Ramsay's Revolution, ii. 67. 


found amazement, coupled with something akin to despair. 
The futile attempts of the British against the city in 1776, 
and again in 1779, ^'^^ inspired nearly all classes with a fatal 
confidence that then- capital city would again escape the 
snares of the enemj^ — to be accomplished in some Providen- 
tial way, of which they had no verj^ clear conception. But 
in matters of war, as of peace, God helps those who help 
themselves. Had the people of South Carolina repaired in 
large numbers to their capital, with proper supplies for a 
long siege ; or had they, while their fellows were cooped up 
within the devoted city, embodied under such men as Sum- 
ter, Williamson, Pickens, Kershaw, Williams and other 
popular leaders, harassed the besieging army, cut off its 
foraging parties, kept the communication open, and encour- 
aged the beleaguered garrison to make sorties, and perhaps 
capture supplies from their enemies, the approaches of the 
British might have been retarded, and the siege prolonged 
till, perhaps, the arrival of DeKalb and other forces from 
the North. 

Could the enemy have thus been retarded, they would 
soon have encountered a yet more dangerous foe in the 
rapidly approaching hot season, when camp life and expos- 
ure in that malarial climate, would have rapidly decimated 
their forces. And there was, perhaps, still another end to 
be gained by prolonging the siege On the second of May, 
a large French fleet, under the Chevalier de Ternay, trans- 
porting an army of nearly six thousand of the choicest troops 
of France, commanded by the Count de Rochambeau, had 
sailed from Brest, destined to aid the young Republic in its 
struggle for independence. On the twentieth of June, the}' 
encountered a Bridsh fleet, in ladtude 30°, a httle south 
of the Bermuda Islands, when some distant exchanging 
of shots occurred between them. Several days before this 
event, the French fleet had captured a Bridsh cutter con- 
veying several British officers from Charleston to the Ber- 
mudas, by whom they learned of the siege and capture of 


Charleston ; and, soon after taking another vessel, one of 
Admiral Arbuthnot's fleet, on its return to New York, they 
learned by its papers and passengers a full confirmation 
of the fall of the devoted city.* 

According to Moultrie, it was the plan of Ternay and 
Rochambeau to have attempted the relief of Charleston, 
had they not have learned of its capture. Their intention 
was, to have entered Ball's Bay, landed the troops at Sevee's 
Ba}^ then marched down to Haddrell's Point, crossing 
thence over to Charleston; "which," saj's Moultrie, "they 
could very easily have done, and would have effectually 
raised the siege, and taken the British fleet in Charleston 
harbor and in Stono Inlet, and, in all probability, their 
whole arm}'.' Had the news of this approaching fleet 
been known in time by General Lincoln, and the people of 
the surrounding country, the defence of the city might have 
been prolonged, and, perhaps, the mortification of surren- 
der averted — and the salvation of Charleston been celebrated 
in history as one of the grandest achievements of the Revo- 

But all this misadventure was not without its compensa- 
tions ; for Rochambeau's fine army landed safely at New- 
port, and, in time, joined Washington, giving new life and 
hope to the American cause, and sharing in the capture of 
Cornwallis the follo\\'ing j'ear. It was a knowledge of the 
fitting out of Ternay's fleet, and its probable American des- 
tination, that prompted Sir Henry Clinton to hasten the 
capture of Charleston,]; and then to expedite the larger part 
of his forces to the northward, lest New York should be 
attacked and taken by the combined French and American 

"'■'Rochambeau's Memoirs, Paris, 1824, i, 241-243; Almon's Remembrancer, x. 273 

t Moultrie's Memoirs, ii, 202-203; Johnson's Traditions. 262. 

X The British Government had kept a close watch on this large French fleet during the 
long period of its fitting out at Brest; and, no doubt, apprised Sir Henry Clinton of the 
approaching danger. The Virginia Gazette of May 31st, 1780 has a Philadelphia item 
under date of May gtb, saying a gentleman from New York stated, that it was reported in 
that city that a French and Spanish fleet was expected upon the American coast, and that 
the enterprise against Charleston was to be abandoned. 


troops and navy ; and thus were the Southern Colonies left 
with CornwalHs' crippled army, rendering possible the noble 
services of Greene, Sumter, and Marion. 

Taking advantage of the calm, British detachments 
were sent out in all directions to plant the Royal standard, 
over-awe the people, and require them to take protection. 
Conspicuously observable was the greediness of the con- 
querors for plunder. The value of the spoil, which was 
distributed by English and Hessian Commissaries of cap- 
tures, amounted to about three hundred thousand pounds 
sterling ; the dividend of a Major-General exceeded over 
four thousand guineas — or twenty thousand dollars. There 
was no restraint upon private rapine ; the silver plate of the 
planters was carried off; all negroes that had belonged to 
Rebels were seized, even though they had themselves sought 
an asylum within the British lines ; and, at a single embark- 
ation, two thousand were shipped to a market in the West 
Indies. British and Gei-man officers thought more of 
amassing fortunes than of re-uniting the empire. The pa- 
triots were not allowed to appoint attorneys to manage or 
sell their estates. A sentence of confiscation hung over the 
whole land, and British protection was granted only in 
return for the unconditional promise of loj^alty.* 

The dashing Colonel Tarleton had been dispatched with 
his cavalry in pursuit of Colonel Buford's regiment, which 
had arrived too late to join the Charleston garrison ; and 
which were overtaken near the Waxhaw settlement, and 
many of them cut to pieces with savage cruelty. One hun- 
dred and thirteen of Buford's men were cut down and killed 
outright.; a hundred and fifty too badly hacked to be re- 
moved, while only fifty-three could be brought as prisoners 
to Camden. If anything at this time could have added to 
the general depression so prevalent among all classes of 
people, it was just such a barbarous butchery as this of 

■*Ramsny's Revolution, ii, 66-67; Gordons American War, iii, 382; Bancroft's History 
United States, a, 305-6. 


Tarleton's. The highest encomiums were bestowed by 
Cornwallis upon tiie liero of this sickening massacre. 

On the twenty-second da}- of May, it was proclaimed that 
all who should thereafter oppose the King in arms, or hinder 
any one from joining his forces, should have his property con- 
fiscated, and be otherwise severel}- punished ; and, on the first 
of June, Clinton and Arbuthnot, as Royal Commissioners, 
offered by proclamation, pardon to the penitent, on condition 
of their immediate teturn to allegiance ; and to the loyal, the 
pledge of their former political immunities, including free- 
dom from taxation, save by their own chosen Legislature. 
On the third of that month, another proclamation by Clinton, 
required all the inhabitants of the Province, " who were now 
prisoners on parole." to take an active part in maintain- 
ing the Ro3'al Government; and they were assured, that 
"should they neglect to return to their allegiance, they will 
be treated as rebels to the Government of the King." 

Thus tyrannical measures were advanced step by step 
till the poor paroled people could no longer be protected, as 
they had been promised, by remaining quietly at home ; but 
must take up arms in defence of the Government they ab- 
horred, and which was forging chains for their perpetual 
enslavement. On the eve of his departure for New York, 
leaving the Southern command under Lord Cornwallis, 
Clinton reported to his Royal masters in England: "The 
inhabitants from every quarter declare their allegiance to 
the King, and offer their services in arms. There are few 
men in South Carolina who are not either our prisoners or 
in arms with us." 

A few weeks later, when two prominent men, one who 
had filled a high position, and both prominently concerned 
in the rebellion, went to Cornwallis to surrender themselves 
under the provisions of Clinton and Arbuthnot's procla- 
mation, the noble Earl could only answer that he had no 
knowledge of its existence. And thus his Lordship com- 
menced his career as Commander-in-Chief of the South- 


em department, ignoring all ideas and promises of a policy 
of moderation. He sowed the wind, and in the end reaped 
the whirlwind. 

The people of South Carolina, as we have seen, were 
not sufficiently aroused to a sense of their danger, undl it 
was too late to avert it — if, indeed, they, alone and single- 
handed, could by an}' possibilit}' have warded off" the great 
public calamity. When they learned the appalling news 
of the surrender of Charleston, they had little heart to make 
any further show of opposition to the power of the British 
Government. Many of the country leaders, when detach- 
ments of the conquering troops were sent among them, un- 
resistingly gave up their arms, and took Royal protecdon 
— among whom were General Andrew Williamson, Gen- 
eral Isaac Huger, Colonel Andrew Pickens, Colonel Peter 
Horry, Colonel James Mayson, Colonel LeRoy Hammond, 
Colonel John Thomas, Sr., Colonel Isaac Hayne, Major 
John Postell, Major John Purvis, and many others. Sumter 
braved the popular tide for submission, retired alone before 
the advancing foe, leaving his home to the torch of the 
enemy, and his helpless family without a roof to cover 
their defenceless heads, or a morsel of food for their susten- 
ance ; while Marion, who was accidently injured at Charles- 
ton, was conveyed from the city before its final environment, 
and was quietly recuperating in some sequestered place in 
the swamps of the lower part of the country. And, so far 
as South Carolina was concerned, 

" Hope for a season bade the world farewell." 



1741 to May, 1780. 

Early Life of Palrick Ferguson. — Brandywine Battle — Refrains from 
ShootingW'ashington — Wounded. — Conducts Little Egg Harbor Ex- 
pedition.— Nearly Killed by an Accidental Attack by his own Friends. 
— -Biggin Bridge and Monk's Corner Affair. — Resents Insults to 
Ladies, — Siege of Charleston. 

No man, perhaps, of his rank and years, ever attained 
more military distinction in his day than Patrick Ferguson. 
As his name will hereafter figure so prominently in this 
narrative, it is but simple justice to his memory, and alike 
due to the natural curiosity of the reader, that his career 
should be as fully and impartially portrayed as the materials 
will permit. 

He was the second son of James Ferguson, afterward 
Lord Pitfour, of Pitfour, an eminent advocate, and for 
twelve years one of the Scotch Judges, and was born in 
Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1744. His mother was Anne 
Murray, daughter of Alexander, Lord Elibank. His father, 
and his uncle, James Murray, Lord Elibank, were regarded 
as men of large culture, equal, in erudition and genius, to 
the authors of the Scottish Augustan age. Having acquired 
an early education, "young Ferguson," says a British 
writer, "sought fame by a different direction, but was of 
equally vigorous and brilliant powers.'''' When only in his 
fifteenth year, a commission was purchased for him, and he 
entered the army July twelfth, 1759, ^^ ^ Cornet, in the second 
or Royal North British Dragoons, serving in the wars of 
Flanders and Germany, wherein he distinguished himself 
by a courage as cool as it was determined. He soon 


evinced the great purpose of his life — to become conspic- 
uously beneficial by professional skill and effort. 

Young Ferguson joined the army in Germany soon 
after the engagement on the plains of Minden. Some skir- 
mishing took place in the subsequent part of that year. On 
the thirtieth of June, 1760, the Dragoons, to which he was 
attached, with other corps, drove the French cavalry from 
the field, and chased their infantry in disorder through 
Warbourg, and across the Rymel river, gaining from the 
Commander-in-Chief the compliment of having performed 
" prodigies of valor." On the twenty-second of August, the 
Dragoons defeated a French party near Zierenberg, making 
a brilliant charge, and deciding the contest. In the follow- 
ing month they captured Zierenberg, with two cannon and 
three hundred prisoners. During the year 1761, the 
Dragoons were similarly employed ; but suffered much 
from the bad quality of the water. Ferguson becoming dis- 
abled by sickness, was sent home, and remained the most 
of the time in England and Scotland from 1762 until 1768. 

On the first of September, in the latter year, a commis- 
sion of Captain was purchased for him in the seventieth 
regiment of foot, then stationed in the Caribbee Islands, in 
the West Indies, whither he repaired, and performed im- 
portant service in quelhng an insurrection of the Caribs on 
the Island of St. Vincent. These Caribs were a mixture of 
the African with the native Indian tribes ; they were brave, 
expert in the use of fire-arms, and their native fastnesses 
had greatly aided them in their resistance to the Govern- 
ment. The troops suffered much in this service. 

The regiment remained in the Caribbee Islands till 1773. 
About this period. Captain Ferguson was stationed a while 
in the peaceful garrison of Hahfax, in Nova Scotia ; and 
disdaining inglorious ease, he embarked for England, where 
he assiduously employed his time in acquiring military 
knowledge and science. When the disputes between the 
Mother country and her Colonies were verging toward 


hostilities, the boasted skill of the Americans in the use of 
the rifle, was regarded as an object of terror to the British 
troops. These rumors operated on the genius of Ferguson, 
and he invented a new species of rifle, which could be 
loaded with greater celerity, and fired with more precision 
than any then in use. He could load his newly constructed 
gun at the breech, without using the ramrod, and with such 
quickness and repetition as to fire seven times in a minute. 
He was regarded as the best rifle shot in the British 
army, if not the best marksman living — excepting, possi- 
bly, his old associate, George Hanger ;'^ and in adroitness 
and celerity in loading and firing, whether prostrate or 

*This possible exception should be somewhat qualified. The British writers, including 
several who knew whereof they wrote, unite in ascribing this high character to Ferguson's 
skill in the use of his improved rifle. Major Hanger, in his Life and Opinions^ written 
after Ferguson had been twenty years in his grave, claims not simply equal, but superior 
skill. The redoubtable Major relates, with no little naivete, this ludicrous anecdote, as 
occurring in New York City, in 1782, when Sir Guy Carleton had become Commander-in- 
Chief of the British forces. Sitting opposite the Major at dinner one day. Sir Guy said : 
" Major Hanger, I have been told that you are a most skilful marksman with a rifle-gun — I 
have heard of astonishing feats that you have performed in shooting." Thanking him for 
the compliment, I told his Excellency, that "I was vain enough to say, with truth, that 
many officers in the army had witnessed my adroitness. I then began to inform Sir Guy 
how my old deceased friend, Colonel Ferguson, and myself, had practiced together, who, for 
skill and knowledge of that weapon, had been so celebrated, and that Ferguson had ever 
acknowledged the superiority of my skill to his, after one particular day's practice, when 
I had shot three balls into one hole." Sir Guy replied to this ; " I know you. are very 
expert in this art." Now, had T been quiet, and satisfied with the compliment the Com- 
mander-in-Chief paid me, and not pushed the matter further, it had been well for me ; but I 
replied; "Yes, Sir Guy. I really have reduced the art of shooting with a rifle to such a 
nicety, that, at a moderate distance, I can kill a flea with a single ball." At this, Sir Guy 
began to stare not a little, and seemed to indicate from the smile on his countenance, that he 
thought I had rather out-stepped my usual out-doings in the art. Observing this, I respect- 
fully replied: "I see by your Excellency's countenance that you seem doubtful of the 
singularity and perfection of my art ; but if I may presume so much, as to dare offer a wager 
to my Commander-in-Chief. I will bet your Excellency five guineas that I kill a fllea with a 
single ball once in eight shots, at eight yards." Sir Guy replied : " My dear Major, I am 
not given to lay wagers, but for once I will bet you five guineas, provided you will let the 
flea hop." A loud laugh ensued at the table ; and. after laughing heartily myself, 1 placed 
my knuckle under the table, and striking it from beneath, said : '' Sir Guy, I knock under, 
and will never speak of my skill in shooting with a rifle-gun again before you." 

Neither Ferguson nor Hanger were aware of a remarkable youth at that time in the 
Wheeling region. Lewis Wetzel, who had learned to load but a common rifle as he sped 
swiftly through the woods with a pack of Indians at his heels. Killing one of a party, four 
others singled out, determined to catch alive the bold young warrior. First, one fell a vic- 
tim to his unerring rifle, then another, and finally a third, in the race for life; when the 
only survivor stopped short, gave a yell of despair and disappointment, saying: "No 
catch dat man — gun always loaded." 


erect, he is said to have excelled the best American fron- 
tiersman, or even the expert Indian of the forest. He often 
practiced, and exhibited his dexterity in the use of the rifle, 
both at Black Heath and Woolwich. Such was his exe- 
cution in firing, that it almost exceeded the bounds of 
credibilitjr, having very nearlj' brought his aim at an ob- 
jective point almost to a mathematical certainty. 

On the first of June, 1776, Captain Ferguson made some 
rifle experiments at Woolwich, in the presence of Lord 
Townshend, master of ordnance. Generals Amherst and 
Hawley, and other officers of high rank and large military 
experience. Notwithstanding a heavy rain, and a high wind, 
he fired during the space of four or five minutes, at the rate of 
four shots per minute, at a target two hundred }-ards distance. 
He next fired six shots in a minute. He also fired, while 
advancing at the rate of four miles per hour, four times in a 
minute. He then poured a bottle of water into the pan and 
barrel of the rifle when loaded, so as to wet every grain of 
powder ; and, in less than half a minute, he fired it off, as 
well as ever, without extracting the ball. Lastly, he hit the 
bull's eye target, lying on his back on the ground. Incredi- 
ble as it might seem, considering the variations of the wind, 
and the wetness of the weather, he missed the target only 
three times during the whole series of experiments. These 
military dignitaries were not onty satisfied but astonished 
at the perfection of both his rifle and his practice. On one 
of these occasions, George the Thii-d honored him with his 
presence ; and, towards the close of the year, a patent was 
granted for all his improvements. 

According to the testimony of eye-witnesses, he would 
check his horse, let the reins fall upon the animal's neck, 
draw a pistol from his holster, toss it aloft, catch it as it fell, 
aim, and shoot the head off a bird on an adjacent fence.* 
"It is not certain," says the British Annual Register for 

* General J. W, D. DePeyster's King's Mountain, in Historical Magazine March 1869, 
p. 100. 


1 781, " that these improvements produced all the effect in 
real service, whicli had been expected from those astonishing 
specimens of them that were displayed in England." 

Anxious to take an active part in the American war, a 
hundred select men were chosen for his command, whom 
he took unwearied pains to instruct in the dextrous use of 
his newly invented rifle. In the spring of 1777, he was 
sent to America — to him, a much coveted service. Joining 
the main army under Sir Henry Clinton, he was placed at 
the head of a corps of riflemen, picked from the different 
regiments, and soon after participated, under Sir William 
Howe, in the battle of Brandy wine, on the eleventh of 
September. ■ ' General Knyphausen," says a British writer, 
" with another division, marched to Chad's Ford, against 
the Provincials who were placed there. In this service the 
German General experienced very important assistance from 
a corps of riflemen commanded by Captain Patrick Fer- 
guson, whose meritorious conduct was acknowledged by 
the whole British army.'' 

In a private letter from Captain Ferguson, to his kins- 
man. Dr. Adam Ferguson, he details a very curious incident, 
which occurred while he lay, with his riflemen, in the skirt 
of a wood, in front of Knyphausen's division. " We had 
not lain long," says Captain Ferguson, " when a Rebel of- 
ficer, remarkable by a hussar dress, passed towards our 
army, within a hundred yards of my right flank, not per- 
ceiving us. He was followed by another, dressed in dark 
green and blue, mounted on a bay horse, with a remarkably 
high cocked hat. I ordered three good shots to steal near 
to and fire at them ; but the idea disgusting me, I recalled 
the order. The hussar, in returning, made a circuit, but 
the other passed within a hundred yards of us, upon which 
I advanced from the wood towards him. Upon my calling, 
he stopped; but after looking atme, he proceeded. I again 
drew his attention, and made signs to him to stop, levelling 
my piece at him ; but he slowly cantered awaj^ As I was 


within that distance, at which, in the quickest firing, I 
could have lodged half a dozen balls in or about him, betbre 
he was out of my reach, I had only to determine ; but it 
was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending in- 
di^'idual, who was acquitting hiinself very coolly of his 
duty — so I let him alone. The day after, I had been telling 
this story to some wounded officers who lay in the same 
room with me, when one of the surgeons, who had been 
dressing the wounded Rebel officers, came in, and told us, 
that they had been informing him that General Washington 
was all the morning with the light troops, and only attended 
by a French officer in hussar dress, he himself dressed and 
mounted in every point as above described. [ aninot sorry 
that I did not know at the lime who it z^as.'"* 

A British writer suggestively remarks, in this connection, 
that, "unfortunately Ferguson did not personally know 
Washington, otherwise the Rebels would have had a new 
General to seek." Flad Washington fallen, it is difficult to 
calculate its probable effect upon the result of the struggle of 
the American people. Flow slight, oftentimes, are the inci- 
dents which, in the course of events, seem to give direction to 
the most momentous concerns of the human race. This sin- 
gular impulse of Ferguson, illustrates, in a forcible manner, 
the over-ruling hand of Providence in directing the operation 
of a man's mind when he himself is least of all aware of it. 

There is, however, some doubt whether it was really 
Washington whom Ferguson was too generous to profit by 
his advantage. James Fenimore Cooper relates, in the 
New York Mirror, of April sixteenth, 183 1 , on the authority 
of his late father-in-law. Major John P. DeLancey, some 
interesting facts, corroborating the main features of the 
story. DeLancey was the second in command of Fergu- 
son's riflemen, and had seen Washington in Philadelphia 

* Percy Anecdotes, Harper's edition, ii, 52 ; British Annual Ke^^isier, 1781, 51 ; Political 
MaE;nzine, 1781. 60; Hist, of IVar in America, n\, 149; Andrews' Hist 0/ the War. iv. 84; 
James' I,ife 0/ Marion. 76-77; Irvinjr's Washington, iv, 51-52; Ttiiy's Pennsylvania Hist. 
Colls., 213; National Jntelligeticer, May, 1851. 


the year before the commencement of the war. " During 
the manoeuvres which preceded the battle of Brandy wine,'' 
said Mr. Cooper, "these riflemen were kept skirmishing 
in advance of one of the British columns. They had crossed 
some open ground, in which Ferguson was wounded in the 
arm, and had taken a position in the skirts of a thick wood. 
While Captain DeLancej^ was occupied in arranging a sling 
lor Ferguson's wounded arm, it was reported that an Ameri- 
can officer of rank, attended orAj by a mounted orderly, 
had ridden into the open ground, and was then within point- 
blank rifle shot. Two or three of the best marksmen 
stepped forward, and asked leave to bring him down. Fer- 
guson peremptoril}^ refused ; but he went to the wood, and 
showine himself, menaced the American with several rifles, 
while he called to him, and made signs to him to come in. 
The mounted officer saw his enemies, drew his reins, and 
sat looking at them attentively for a few moments. 

"A sergeant," continues Mr. Cooper, "now offered to 
hit the Iiorse without injuring the rider, but Ferguson still 
withheld his consent, affirming that it was Washington re- 
connoitering, and that he would not be the instrument of 
placing the life of so great a man in jeopardy by so unfair 
means. The horseman turned and rode slowly away. To 
his last moment, Ferguson maintained that the officer whose 
life he had spared was Washington. I have often heard 
Captain DeLancey relate these circumstances, and though 
he never pretended to be sure of the person of the unknown 
horseman, it was his opinion, from some particulars of dress 
and stature, that it was the Count Pulaski. Though in 
error as 'o the person of the individual whom he spared, 
the merit of Major Ferguson is not cit all diminished " by 
its supposed correction. 

Captain Ferguson, as we have seen, encountered some 
American sharp-shooters in the battle as keen and skillful 
as himself in the use of the riffe, and received a dangerous 
wound which so shattered his right arm, as to forever after 


render it useless.* During the period of his unfitness for 
service, General Howe distributed his riflemen among other 
corps ; but on his recovery, he again embodied them, and 
renewed his former active career. When satisfied that he 
would never regain the use of his right hand, he practiced, 
and soon acquired the use of his sword, with the left. A 
writer in the Political J\/agazine for 1781, states that Fer- 
guson was in the battle of Germantown, on the fourth of 
October ensuing — was there wounded, and there came near 
bringing his rifle to bear on Washington ; but it is not prob- 
able that he was sufficiently recovered of his severe wound 
received at Brandywine, to have taken the field three weeks 
afterwards — besides, the authorities show, that it was at 
Brandywine where he so narrowly escaped the temptation 
to tiy the accuracy of his rifle on the American Commander- 
in-Chief, or some other prominent officer, making observa- 
tions, and where he was so grievously wounded. 

When the British evacuated Philadelphia, in June, I77S> 
Captain E'erguson accompanied the retiring forces to New 
York, and, of course, participated in the battle of Mon- 
mouth on the way. It was fought on one of the hottest days 
of the summer, when many of the British soldiers died from 
the effects of the heat. For some time after reaching New 
York, Captain Ferguson and his rifle corps were not called 
on to engage in any active service. 

Little Egg Harbor, on the eastern coast of New Jersey, 
had long been noted as a place of rendezvous for American 
privateers, which preyed largely upon British commerce. 
A vast amount of property had been brought into this port, 
captured from the enemy. " To destroy this nest of rebel 
pirates," as a British writer termed it, an expedidon was 
fitted out from New York, the close of September, 1778, 
composed of three hundred regulars, and a body of one 
hundred Royalist volunteers, all under the command of Cap- 

*'S,as.l!,OTi% Naval and Military Memoirs, vi, 83; Mackenzie's Strictures on Tarle- 
ton, 23. 


tain Ferguson. Captain Henry Colins, of the Navy, trans- 
ported the troops in eight or ten armed vessels, and shared 
in the enterprise, From untoward weather, they were long 
at sea. General Washington, hearing of the expedition, 
dispatched Count Pulaski and his Legion cavalry, and at 
the same time sent an express to Tuckerton, as did also 
Governor Livingston, giving information, so that four priva- 
teers put to sea and escaped, while others took refuge up 
the Little Egg Harbor river. Ferguson's party reached the 
Harbor on the afternoon of the fifth of October, and, 
taking his smaller craft, pushed twent}^ miles up the stream 
to Chestnut Neck, where were several vessels, about a dozen 
houses, with stores for the reception of the prize goods, 
and accommodations for the privateers men. Here were 
some works erected for the protection of the place, and a 
few men occupying them ; but no artillery had yet been 
placed there The prize vessels were hastily scuttled and 
dismantled, and the small American party easily driven into 
the woods, when Captain Ferguson's force demolished the 
batteries, burning ten vessels and the houses in the village. 
The British in this aflair had none killed, and but a single 
soldier wounded. Had he arrived sooner, Ferguson in- 
tended to have pushed forward with celerity twenty miles 
farther, to "The Forks," which was accounted only thirty- 
five miles from Philadelphia. But the alarm had been 
spread through the country, and the local militia had been 
reinforced by Pulaski's cavalrjf, and five field pieces of 
Colonel Proctor's artillery ; so the idea of reaching and 
destroying the stores and small craft there, had to be aban- 

Returning the next day, October the seventh, down the 
river, they reached two of their armed sloops, which had got 
aground on their upward passage, and were still fast. 
They were lightened, and got off the next morning. Dur- 
ing the delay, Captain Ferguson employed his troops, 
under cover of the gunboats, in an excursion on the north 


shore, to destroy some principal salt works, also some 
stores, dwellings, and Tucker's Mill ; these were sacked 
and laid in ashes^all, as was asserted by the British, being 
the property of persons concerned in privateering, or 
"whose activity in the cause of America, and unrelenting 
persecution of the Loyalists, marked them out as the 
objects of vengeance." As those persons were pointed out 
by the New Jersey Tory volunteers, who accompanied the 
expedition, we may well imagine that private pique, and 
neighborhood feuds, entered largely into these proscriptions. 

To cover Ferguson's expedition, and distract the attention 
of Washington, Sir Henry Clinton had detached Lord Corn- 
wallis with five thousand men into New Jersey, and General 
Knyphausen with three thousand into Westchester county. 
Learning of Colonel Baylor's dragoons being at old Tappan, 
Cornwallis selected General Grey to surprise them which he 
effected much in the same manner as Ferguson subsequently 
struck Pulaski's infantrj^, unawares — eleven having been 
killed outright, twenty-five mangled with repeated thrusts, 
some receiving ten, twelve, and even sixteen wounds. It 
was a merciless treatment of men who sued for quarter. 
Among the wounded were Colonel Baylor and Major Clough 
— the latter, mortally; and about forty prisoners taken, 
mostly through the humane interposition of one of Grey's 
Captains, whose feelings revolted at the orders of his san- 
guinary commander — the same commander who had, the 
year before, performed a similarly bloody enterprise against 
Wayne, at Paoli. 

Recalling these predatory parties to New York, Sir 
Henry Clinton directed Admiral Gambler to write Captain 
Colins in their joint behalf, that the)^ thought it unsafe for 
him and Captain Ferguson to remain longer in New Jersey. 
But Captain Colins' vessels being wind-bound for several 
days, gave Captain Ferguson time for another enterprise. 
On the evening of the thirteenth of October, some deserters 
from Pulaski's Legion gave information of that corps being 


posted, within striking distance, eleven miles up the river; 
when Ferguson formed the design of attempting their sur- 

The chief of these deserters was one Juliet, a renegade 
from the Hessians the preceding winter, who was sent by the 
Board of War to Pulaski, without a commission indeed, 
but with orders to permit him to do the duty of a Sub-Lieu- 
tenant in the Legion. This man was treated with such dis- 
respect by Lieutenant-Colonel Baron De Bosen, whose high 
sense of honor led him to despise a person, who, even though 
a commissioned officer, could be guilty of deserting his 
colors, that the culprit determined to revenge himself in a 
manner that could not have been foreseen or imagined. 
Under pretence of fishing, he one day left the camp with 
five others, and as thev did not return at the proper time, 
and it could not be supposed that Juliet would have the har- 
dihood to rejoin the enemy, they were thought to have been 
drowned. But Juliet had the duplicity to debauch three of 
the soldiers, and the other two were forced to go with them. 

Pulaski's corps, as the deserters correctly stated, con- 
sisted of three companies of infantiy, occupying three houses 
by themselves, under the Lieutenant-Colonel Baron De 
Bosen ; while Piilaski, with a troop of cavalry, was sta- 
tioned some distance beyond, with a detachment of artillery, 
having a brass field piece. Accordingly Fergvison selected 
two hundred and fifty men, partly marines, leaving in boats 
at eleven o'clock on the night of the fourteenth ; and, after 
rowing ten miles, they reached a bridge at four o'clock the 
next morning, within a mile of Pulaski's infantry. The 
bridge was seized, so as to cover their retreat, and fifty men 
left for its defence. DeBosen's infantry companies were sur- 
rounded and completely surprised, and attacked as they 
emerged from their houses. "It being a night attack," 
says Ferguson, in his report, "little quai'ter could, of course, 
be given" — so they cut, and slashed, and bayoneted, killing 
all who came in their wajr, and taking only five prisoners. 


The Americans, roused from their shimbers, fought as well 
as they could. 

The hapless Baron De Bosen, on the first alarm, rushed 
out, armed with his sword and pistols ; and though he was a 
remarkabh' stout man, and fought like a lion, he was soon 
overpowered by numbers and killed. So far, at least, as 
the double-traitor, Juliet,* was concerned, revenge on 
De Bosen seems to have been his object ; and his voice 
was distinctly heard exclaiming, amid the din and confusion 
of the strife: " This is the Colonel — kill him ! " De Bosen's 
bod}' was found pierced with baj-onets. Lieutenant De 
La Borderie, together with some forty of the men, were also 
among the slain. It was a sad and sanguinaiy occurrence. 

On the first alarm, Pulaski hastened with his cavalrjr to 
the support of his unfortunate infantry, when the British, 
hearing the clattering hoofs, giving note of their approach, 
fled in disorder, leaving behind them arms, accoutrements, 
hats, blades, etc. Pulaski captvired a few prisoners ; but 
between the place of conflict and the bridge was very 
swampy, over which the cavalry could scarcely walk. 
Reaching the bridge, they found the plank thrown off, to 
prevent pursuit by the cavahy. The riflemen, and some of 
the infantry, however, passed over on the string-pieces, and 
fired some volleys on the rear of the retreating foe, which 
they returned. "We had the advantage," says Pulaski, 
"and made them run again, although they out-numbered 
us." As the cavalry could not pass the stream, Pulaski 
recalled his pioneers ; and he adds, in his report, that his 
party cut off about t^venty-five of Ferguson's men in their 
retreat, who took refuge in the woods, and doubtless subse- 
quently rejoined their friends. Ferguson's loss, as he 
reported it, was two killed, three wounded, and one missing. 

* Juliet seems not to have been crowned with honors by the British on his return, A 
British Diary of the Revolution, published in Vol, iv of the Historical Magazine, p, 136, 
under date Newport, R. I., January irth, 1779, states: "In the fleet from Long Island 
arrived several Hessians, among them is one Lieutenant Juliet, of the Landgrave regiment 
who deserted to the Provincials when the Island was besieged by them, and then went 
back to New York. He is under aji arrest." 


He attempted to excuse the butchery of Pulaski's unsus- 
pecting infantiy, by alleging that he learned from the 
deserters, who came to him, that the Count had, in public 
orders, forbade all granting of quarters — information which 
proved to be false, and which Ferguson should never have 
trusted, especially on the word of deserters. It is credit- 
able, however, to his humanity, amid the excitements and 
horrors of war, that he refrained from wantonly destroying 
the houses of non-combatants, though they sheltered the 
personal effects of his enemies. " We had an opportunity," 
sa3^s Ferguson, in his report to Sir Henry Clinton, "of 
destro3dng part of the baggage and equipage of Pulaski's 
Legion, by burning their quarters, but, as the houses 
belonged to some inoffensive Quakers, who, I am afraid, 
have sufficiently suffered already in the confusion of a night's 
scramble, I know. Sir, that you will think with us, that the 
injury to be thereby done to the enemy, would not have 
compensated for the sufferings of these innocent people." 

As the fleet were going out of Little Egg Harbor, the 
Zebra, the flag-ship, grounded, and to prevent her from 
falhng into the hands of the Americans, Captain Colins 
ordered her set on fire ; and as the fire reached her guns, 
thejr were discharged, much to the amusement of the Amer- 
icans, who beheld the conflagration. Besides their military 
operations. Judge Jones, the Roj^alist historian of New 
York, states of Ferguson and his men, that they "plun- 
dered the inhabitants, burnt their houses, their churches, 
and their barns ; ruined their farms ; stole their cattle, hogs, 
horses, and sheep, and then triumphantly returned to New 
York" — evidently conve}nng the idea that this mode of 
warfare was not honorable to those who ordered, nor to 
those who were engaged in it. 

L-ving denounces Ferguson's enterprise as "a marauding 
expedition, worthy of the times of the buccaneers." Sir 
Henry Clinton, on the other hand, reported it to the Home 
Government, as a " success, under the direction of that 


very active and zealous officer, Ferguson," while Admiral 
Gambler pronounced it " a spirited service." Ferguson fully 
accomplished the purpose for which he set out — the destruc- 
tion of the vessels, stores, and works at Little Egg Harbor ; 
and, in addition, infficted a severe blow on a portion of 
Pulaski's Lep'ion.* 

During the campaign of 1779, Captain Ferguson was 
engaged in several predatory incursions along the coast, 
and on the Hudson — having been stationed awhile at Stony 
Point before its capture by Wajme ; steadily increasing the 
confidence of his superiors, and extorting the respect of the 
Americans for his valor and enterprise. On the twenty-fifth 
of October, in this year, he was promoted to the rank of 
Major in the second battalion of the seventy-first regiment, 
or Highland Light Infantry, composed of Frasers, Camp- 
bells, McArthurs, McDonalds, McLeods, and many others 
of the finest Scotch laddies in the British service. 

When Sir Henrjr Clinton fitted out his expedition against 
Charleston, at the close of 1779, he very naturally selected 
Major Ferguson to share in the important enterprise. A 
corps of three hundred men, called the American Volunteers, 
was assigned for his command — he having the choice of 
both officers and soldiers ; and for this special service, he 
had given him, the- rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. At his 
request, Major Hanger's corps of two hundred Hessians 
were to be joined to Ferguson's. Early in February, the 
seventy-first regiment and Ferguson's corps were sent from 
Savannah to Augusta ; and, early in March, the American 
Volunteers for«ied a part of the Georgia troops, who were 
ordered, under General Patterson, to march towards Charles- 
ton, and join the main force under Sir Henry Clinton. 

*Touchin,ar this Little Egg Harbor expedition, see reports of Sir Henry Clinton. Admi- 
ral Gambier, Captains Ferguson and Colins, in Ahnon x. 150-56; Pnlasl<i's report, Pennsyl- 
vania Packet, October 20, 1778; Rivington's Royal Gazette, October 24, 1778; Pol'tiral 
Miigazine, 1781, p. 60: I\Tarsha!!'s ]Vas]ihigton, revised edition, i, 270-71; Re^ly to Jnelge 
Johnson, vindicating Count Pulaski, by Paul Tentalou. senior captain in PulaF^ki's Legion, 
1826, 36-37; Irving's Washington, iii. 472-75; Bancroft's History, x, 152; Lossing's Field 
Book. ii. 529; Barber & Howes' Nenn Jersey, 108-9; ^"^ Jones' History of Nczv York 
During the Revolutionary IVar, 1,287. 


On the thirteenth of the month, Lieutenant-Colonel Fer- 
guson, with his Volunteers, and Major Cochrane, with the 
infantry of Tarleton's Legion, were ordered forward to 
secure the passes at Bee Creek, Coosahatchie, and Tully 
Finny bridges, about twenty-six miles in advance of the 
army, which \\as as promptly effected as the obstacles in 
the way would permit. It was a toilsome march through 
swamps and difficult passes, having frequent skirmishes 
with the opposing militia of the country. These active offi- 
cers, with their light troops, received intelhgence of two 
parties of mounted Americans at some distance in advance, 
and at once resolved to surprise them by a night attack — a 
kind of service for which Colonel Ferguson had an especial 
fitness, and in which he took unusual delight. 

Arriving at nine o'clock in the evening near the spot 
from which he meant to dislodge the Americans, at Mc- 
Pherson's plantation, Ferguson discovered that they had 
decamped, and he consequently took possession of their 
abandoned position, camping there for the night, and 
awaiting the arrival of the main British force, who were to 
pass near it the next morning. Major Cochrane, with his 
party, piloted hy another route, through swamps and by- 
ways, arrived, before morning, just in front of Ferguson's 
camp ; and, judging by the fires that the Americans were 
still there, led his men to the attack with fixed bayonets. 
Ferguson, expecting that the American party might return, 
had his picket guard out, who, seeing the approach of what 
they regarded as an enemy, gave the alarm, when the 
Legion rushed upon them, driving them pell-mell to Fergu- 
son's camp, where the aroused American Volunteers were 
ready to receive them. " Charge I " was the word on both 
sides ; and, for a little season, the conflict raged. Ferguson, 
wielding his sword in his left hand, defended himself, as 
well as he could, against three assailants, who opposed him 
with fixed bayonets, one of which was unfortunately thrust 
through his left arm. When on the point of falling, amid 


the confusion and clashing of arms, Major Cochrane and 
Colonel Ferguson, almost at the same moment, recognized 
each other's voices, and exerted themselves to put a stop to 
the mistaken conflict. Two of Ferguson's men, and one of 
the Legion, were killed in this unhappy affair, and several 
wounded on both sides. Lieutenant McPherson, of the 
Legion, received ba3-onet wounds in the hand and shoulder. 

But for the timely recognition, on the part of the com- 
manders, of the mutual mistake, Colonel Ferguson would 
most likely have lost his life — "a life," says Major Hanger, 
" equally valuable to the whole army, and to his friends." 

" It was melancholy enough," wrote a participant in the 
affair, near three weeks afterwards, " to see Colonel Fergu- 
son disabled in both arms ; but, thank God, he is perfectly 
recovered again." Tarleton commends "the intrepidity 
and presence of mind of the leaders," in this casual engage- 
ment, as having saved their respective parties from a more 
fatal termination. "The whole army felt for the gallant 
Ferguson," says Hanger ; and the peculiar circumstances 
attending this unlucky conflict, long furnished the camp and 
bivouac with a melancholy topic of conversation.* 

The fleet having crossed the bar, and gained the water 
command thence to Charleston, enabled Sir Henry Clinton 
to bestow more attention than he had hitherto done, to cut- 
ting off the communications of the Americans between the 
city and countrjr. A body of militia, together with the 
remains of three Continental regiments of light dragoons, 
led by Colonel Washington and others, and all under the 
command of General Huger, were stationed at Biggin 
Bridge, near Monk's Corner, about thirty miles from 
Charleston. To destroy or disperse this party, and thus 
prevent supplies of food and reinforcements of men to the 
beleaguered citj^ was a capital object with Sir Henr}' Clin- 
ton ; and its immediate execution was assigned to Colonel 

*Tarleton's Campaigns, 7-8; Mackenzie's Strictures on I'-irlcton, 23; Hanger's Reply 
to Mackenzie, 24-25 ; Sie^e 0/ Charleston, 15S-SQ. 


Tarleton and his Legion, to be seconded by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Ferguson and his riflemen. Tarleton was dashing, 
tireless, and unmerciful. "Ferguson," sa}'S Irving, "was 
a fit associate for Tarleton, in hardy, scrambling, partisan 
enterprise ; equally intrepid and determined, but cooler, and 
more open to impulses of humanity." 

As a night march had been judged the most advisable, 
Tarleton and Ferguson moved, on the evening of April 
thirteenth, from Goose creek, half way from Charleston, to 
strike, if possible, an effective blow at Huger's camp. Some 
distance beyond, a negro was descried attempting to leave 
the road, and avoid notice. He was seized, and was dis- 
covered to be a servant of one of Huger's officers. A letter 
was taken from his pocket, written by his master the pre- 
ceding afternoon, which, with the negro's intelligence, pur- 
chased for a few dollars, proved a fortunate circumstance for 
the advancing party. The}' learned the relative positions of 
Huger's forces, on both sides of Cooper river, and had in 
him a guide to direct them there, through unfrequented 
paths and by-ways. 

Destitute of patrols, Huger was, in effect, taken com- 
pletely by surprise ; and the bold and sudden onset, about 
three o'clock in the morning of the fourteenth, quickly 
scattered the astonished Americans. They had, indeed, 
some slight notice of the attack ; but they were not properly 
prepared for it. The cavalry was posted on the side of the 
river where the first approach was made, and the infantry on 
the opposite bank. "Although," says Ramsay, "the com- 
manding officer of the American cavalry had taken the pre- 
caution of having his horses saddled and bridled, and the 
alarm was given b}' his videttes, posted at the distance of a 
mile in front ; yet, being entirely unsupported by infantrjf, 
the British advanced so rapidly, notwithstanding the opposi- 
tion of the advanced guard, that they began their attack on 
the main body before they could put themselves in a posture 
of defence." Then Major Cochrane, with Tarleton' s Legion, 


quickly forced the passage of Biggin Bridge, and drove 
General Huger and the infantry before him. " In this 
affair," says James, " Major James Conyers, of tiie Ameri- 
cans, distinguished himself by a skillful retreat, and by call- 
ing oft' the attention of the enemy from his sleeping friends 
to himself. In this surprise, the British made free use of 
the bayonet ; the houses in Monk's Corner, then a village, 
were afterwards deserted, but long bore the marks of deadly 
thrust and much blood-shed." 

Several officers, who attempted to defend themselves, 
were killed or wounded. The assailing party lost but one 
officer and two privates wounded, with five horses killed or 
disabled. General Huger, Colonel Washington, and Major 
Jameson, with most of their troops, fled to the adjacent 
swamps and thickets ; while three Captains, one Lieutenant, 
and ten privates were killed ; one Major, one Captain, two 
Lieutenants, and fifteen privates were wounded, and sixty- 
four officers and men, including the wounded, were made 
prisoners. Some two hundred horses, from thirty to forty 
wagons, and quite a supply of provisions and military 
stores, were among the trophies if the victors. If it was 
not a " shameful surprise," as General Moultrie pro- 
nounced it, it was, at least, a very distressing affair for the 
Americans. Poor General Huger, and his aid, John Izard, 
remained in the swamp from Friday morning, the time of 
the surprise, till the succeeding Monday ; it was a long fast, 
and the exposure produced severe sickness on the part of 
the General, causing him to retire awhile from the service.* 

Among the American wounded was Major Vernier, a 
French officer, who commanded the remains of the Legion 
of Count Casimir Pulaski, who had lost his life at Savan- 
nah the preceding autumn. " The Major," says Steadman, 
a British historian and eye-witness, "was mangled in the 
most shocking manner ; he had several wounds, a severe 

* Ramsay's Revolution, ii, 64; Moultrie's Memoirs, ii, 72; Tarleton's Campaigns, 15-17; 
Steadman's American War, ii, 182-83; James" Life of Marion, 36-37; Siege of Charleston, 
124, 164 ; Simm's South Carolina in the Revolution, 125, 138 ; Irving's Washington, iv, 51-52. 


one behind his eai". This unfortunate officer lived several 
hours, reprobating the Americans for their conduct on this 
occasion, and even in his last moments cursing the British 
for their barbarity, in having refused quarter after he had 
s^irrendered. The writer of this, who was ordered on this 
expedition, afforded everjr assistance in his power, and had 
the Major put upon a table, in a public house in the village, 
and a blanket thrown over him. In his last moments, 
the Major was frequently insulted by the privates of the 
Legion." Such merciless treatment of a dying foe, was 
eminently befitting the savage character of Tarleton and 
his men. 

British historians repel, with indignant language, the 
charge of permitting the violation or abuse of females to 
go unpunished ; yet Commissary Steadman relates a case 
highly derogatory of the conduct of some of Tarleton's 
Legion. In the course of this maraud, several of the dra- 
goons broke into the house of Sir John Colleton, in 
the neighborhood of Monk's Corner, and maltreated and 
attempted violence upon three ladies residing there — one, the 
wife of a Charleston physician, a most delicate and beauti- 
ful woman, was most barbarously treated ; another lady 
received one or two sword wounds ; while an unmarried 
lady, a sister of a prominent Am.erican Major, was also 
shamefully misused. They all succeeded in making their 
escape to Monk's Corner, where they were protected ; and 
a carriage being provided, they were escorted to a house in 
that region. The guilty dragoons were apprehended, and 
brought to camp, where, by this time, Colonel Webster had 
arrived and taken the command. " Colonel Ferguson," 
says Steadman, "was for putting the dragoons to instant 
death ; but Colonel Webster did not conceive that his pow- 
ers extended to that of holding a general court-martial.* 
■ • 

Mt must not be inferred that Colonel Webster, who was the next year killed at 
Guilford, was indifferent to such offences; for, we are assured, that to an officer under his 
command, who had so far forgotten himself as to offer an insult to a lady, he hurled many 
a bitter imprecation, and had him immediately turned out of the regiment. — Political 
Magazine^ 1781, 342. 


The prisoners were, however, sent to head-quarters, and, I 
believe, were afterwards tried and wliipped." This decisive 
action on the part of Colonel Ferguson was highly credit- 
able to his head and his heart. "We honor," says Irving, 
" the rough soldier, Ferguson, for the fiat of ' instant death,' 
with which he would have requited the most infamous 
and dastardly outrage that brutalizes warfare." Tarleton, 
possessing none of the finer feelings of human nature, 
failed to second Fergvison's efforts to bring the culprits 
to punishment; for, "afterwards, in England, he had the 
effrontery to boast, in the presence of a lady of respecta- 
bility, that he had killed more men, and ravished more 
women, than any man in America.'' * 

The long protracted siege of Charleston was now draw- 
ing to a close. In the latter part of April, Colonel Fer- 
guson marched down with a party, and captured a small 
redoubt at Haddrell's Point, half a mile above Sullivan's 
Island ; and, on the seventh of May, he obtained permission 
to attack Fort Moultrie, and while upon the march for that 
object, he received intelligence of the surrender of the Fort 
to Captain Hudson, who was relieved of the command 
by Colonel Fei-guson.f And shortly thereafter, General 
Lincoln gave up the city he had so long and so valiantly 

*Steadman's American War, ii, 183; Irving's Washington, iv, 52-53; Garden's Anec- 
dotes, Field's Brooklyn edition, 1865, ii, App'x viii: Mrs. Warren's Hist. Am. Revolution, 
ii, 197. 

\ Siege 0/ Charleston, 165-66; Tarleton's Campaigns, 50, 



1780— May— July. 

Colonel Ferguson sent to the District of Ninety Six. — Organizing the 
Local Militia. — Major Hanger s account of the up-country inhabi- 
tants — his own bad reputation. — Ferguson's seductive promises to 
the people. — The Tory, David Fanning. — Ferguson s adaptation to 
his Mission — Mrs. fane Thomas' adventure. — Colonel Thomas repels 
a Tory assault at Cedar Spri?ig. — Ferguson advances to Fair Forest. 
— Character of the Tories — Stories of their plunderings. — Colonels 
Clarke and Jones of Georgia — the latter surprises a Tory camp. — 
Dunlap and Mills attack Mc Do-well's camp on North Pacolet.— 
Captain Hamptoii s pursuit and defeat of the Tories, 

On the reduction of Charleston, Sir Henry Chnton 
was, for the ensuing few weeks, busily emploj^ed in issuing 
proclamations and forming plans for the complete subjuga- 
tion of the Carolinas and Georgia. He had on the eigh- 
teenth of May, dispatched Lord Cornwallis with a strong 
force on the north-east side of the Santee to Camden ; while 
Colonel Ferguson, at the same time, with a hundred and 
fifty to two hundred men of the Provincial corps, marched 
from Nelson's Ferry via Colonel Thomson's, Beaver creek, 
and the Congaree Store, crossing the Saluda above the 
mouth of Broad river ; thence on to Little river and Ninety 
Six, where they arrived on the twenty-second of June. They 
performed their marches in the cool of the morning, and now 
and then apprehended prominent Whigs on the route. His 
orders were to have a watch-care over the extended district 
of country from the Wateree to the Saluda, well nigh a 
hundred miles. Resuming his march he passed on to 
Ninety Six, whence, after a fortnight's rest, he advanced 
some sixteen miles, and selected a good location on Litde 


river, where he erected some field works, while most of 
his Provincials pushed on to the Fair Forest region.* This 
camp was at the plantation of Colonel James Williams, 
in what is now Laurens County, near the Newberry line, 
where the British and Tories long maintained a post, a part 
of the time under General Cunningham, till the enemy 
evacuated Ninety Six the following year.f 

Sir Henr^' Clinton had directed Major Hanger to repair 
with Colonel Ferguson to the interior settlements, and, 
jointty or separately, to organize, muster, and regulate all 
volunteer corps, and inspect the quantity of grain .and num- 
ber of cattle, etc., belonging to the inhabitants, and report 
to Lord Cornwallis, who would be left in command of the 
Southern Provinces.]: The powers of this warrant were 
very extensive to meet the exigencies of the case. It 
was needful that commissioners should be sent out prop- 
erl}' authorized to receive the submission of the people, 
administer oaths of fealty, and exact pledges of faithful 
Royal service. It was needful, also, that the young men of 
the country should be thoroughly drilled and fitted for recruits 
for Cornwallis' diminished forces ; and it was equally neces- 
sary for that commander to know where the necessary sup- 
plies of grain and meat could be found. It will thus be 
seen how comprehensive was this mission and its purposes. 

Nor were these the only powers vested in these officers. 
All Royal authority had, for several years, been superseded 
by enactments and appointments of the newly created 
State, and these, of necessity, must be ignored. So Colonel 

*Tarleton's Memoirs, 26, 80, 87, 100: O'NealVs //?>^. of Neivberry, -l^-j, 
t Williams' place was about a mile west of Little river, and between that stream and 
Mud Lick crock, on the old Island Ford road, followed by General Greene when he 
retreated from Ninety Six, in 17S1. Ferguson's camp was near the intersection of a road 
leading to Laurens C H.. about sixtf an miles distant. MS. letters of General A. C. 
Garlington. July 19th and 28th' 1880, on authority of Colonel James W. Watts, a descendant 
of Colonel Williams and Major T. K. Vance and others. D. R Crawford, of Martin's Depot, 
S. C, states that three miles above the old "Williams' place, on the west side nf Little river, 
opposite the old Milton store, must have been an encampment, as old gun barrels and gun 
locks have been found there. 

X Hanger's Life and Opinions, ii, 401-2. 


Ferguson and Major Hanger had superadded to their mili- 
tary powers, authority to perform the marriage service. 
Whether they had occasions to officiate, we are not 
informed. However this may have been, the Major 
evidently formed no high estimate of the beauties of the 
up-country region. " In the back parts of Carolina," says 
Major Hanger, "you may search after an angel with as 
much chance of finding one as a parson ; there is no such 
thing — I mean, when I was there. What they are now, I 
know not. It is not impossible, but they may have become 
more religious, moral, and virtuous, since the great affec- 
tion they have imbibed for the French. In my time, you 
might travel sixty or seventy miles, and not see a church, 
or even a schism shop — meeting-house. I have often 
called at a dog-house in the woods, inhabited bv eight or 
ten persons, merely from curiosity. I have asked the 
master of the house : ' Pray, my friend, of what religion 
are you?' 'Of what religion, sir?' 'Yes, mj^ friend, of 
what religion are you — or, to what sect do you belong?' 
'Oh! now I understand you; why, for the matter of that, 
religion does not trouble us much in these -parts.^ 

"This distinguished race of men," continues Hanger, 
"are more savage than the Indians, and possess every one 
of their vices, but not one of their virtues. I have known 
one of these fellows travel two hundred miles through the 
woods, never keeping any road or path, guided by the sun 
by day, and the stars by night, to kill a particular person 
belonging to the opposite party. He would shoot him 
before his own door, and ride away to boast of what he had 
done on his return. I speak only of back-woodsmen, not 
of the inhabitants in general of South Carolina ; for, in all 
America, there are not better educated or better bred men 
than the planters. Indeed, Charleston is celebrated for the 
splendor, luxury, and education of its inhabitants : I speak 
only of that heathen race known by the name of Crackers.'" * 

Such were Major Hanger's representations of the back- 

* Hanger's Life and Opinions^ ii, 403-5. 


woods people of Carolina in his recorded reminiscences of 
twenty-one }'ears thereafter. His slurs and insinuations on 
the virtues and morals of the " angels," probabl}' referring 
to the females of the country, may well be taken with 
many grains of allowance, coming, as they do, from the 
intimate friend and associate of the profligate Prince Regent 
of England, and Colonel Tarleton, both in turn the keeper 
of the beautiful, but fallen "Perdita;" and, moreover, his 
own reputation in America was that of a sensualist. The 
probabilities are, that he met with well-deserved rebuffs and 
rebukes from the ladies of the up-countiy of Carolina, and 
did not long remain there to thrust his insults upon a virtu- 
ous people. As if anticipating his own rich deservings, he 
gives, in his "Life," and "Advice to ye Lovely Cj^prians," 
a portrait of himself, dressed in his regimentals, and sus- 
pended from a gibbet. Yet, in the end, he "robbed the 
hangman of his fees," and the gallows of its victim. 

In a letter from Lord Cornwallis to Sir Henry Clinton, 
June thirtieth, 1780, he mentioned having dispersed Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Balfour's detachment from the Forks of the 
Santee, by the Congarees, to Ninety Six, while he and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Innes, and Major Graham, are giving 
orders for the militia of those districts ; and then adds, con- 
firmatory of Major Hanger's representation of the mixed 
character of Colonel Ferguson's services : "I have ordered 
Major Ferguson," says his Lordship, "to visit every district 
in the Province as fast as they get the militia established, to 
procure lists of each, and to see that my orders are carried 
into execution. I apprehend that his commission of Major- 
Commandant of a regiment of militia, can only take place 
in case a part of the second-class should be called out for 
service, the home duty being more that of a Justice of Peace 
than of a soldier."* 

Major Hanger did not remain many weeks with Colonel 
Ferguson m the Little river region ; for, early in August, 

* Life and Cor. of l^r^ Cornwallis, i, 486. 


he entered Tarleton's Legion as Major, to which he had 
recent]}' been appointed, and participated in the battle of 
Camden, and in the aflair at Charlotte. In his reckless 
manner of expression, the Major remarks, that had he 
remained with Ferguson, he might have shared the same 
fate as he did at King's Mountain; and, "if, indeed, as 
Mahomet is said to have done, I could have taken my flight 
to Paradise on a jackass, that would have been a pleasant 
ride ; but Fate destined me for other things." 

"We come not," declared Ferguson, "to make war on 
women and children, but to relieve their distresses." This 
sounded grateful and pleasant to the ears of the people — a 
large majority of whom, under the leadership of the Cun- 
ninghams, Fletchall, Robinson, and Pearis, were at heart 
Loyalists, and honored the King and Parliament. To 
Colonel Ferguson's standard, while encamped at Little 
river, the Toi'ies of the country flocked in large numbers. 
Companies and regiments were organized, and many offi- 
cers commissioned for the Royal service. David Fanning, 
who had long resided in Orange and Chatham Counties, in 
the North Province, subsequently so notorious as a Tory 
leader for his dare-devil adventures and bloody work gener- 
ally, was among those who repaired to Ferguson's encamp- 
ment ; and evidently, on his personal recommendation and 
influence, secured, in Juh^ from Colonel Ferguson, com- 
missions, from Ensign to Captain, for no less than sixty-two 
persons in the five Counties of Anson, Chatham, Cumber- 
land, Orange, and Randolph, in North Carolina, whose 
names and residence he records in his published Narrative . 
Fanning and Captain Richard Pearis had received General 
Williamson's submission, and granted protection to him 
and his followers ; and three days thereafter to Colonel 
Pickens. Colonel Robert Cunningham had taken the com- 
mand in the Ninety Six region, and formed a camp of 
Loyalists ; * and British authority was fully recognized in 
all the up-country of South Carolina. 

* Fanniiig's Narrative, 12, 13, 19-21, 


The younger men were thoroughly drilled by Colonel 
Ferguson and his subordinates in military tactics, and fitted 
for active service. No one could have been better qualified 
for this business than the distinguished partisan whom Sir 
Henry Clinton had selected for the purpose. He seemed 
almost a born commander. His large experience in war, 
and partiality for military discipline, superadded to his 
pei-sonal magnetism over others, eminently fitted him for 
unlimited influence over his men, and the common people 
within his region. He was not favored, however, with a 
commanding personal presence. He was of middle stature, 
slender make, possessing a serious countenance ; yet it was 
his peculiar characteristic to gain the aflections of the men 
under his command. He would sit down for hoin^s, and 
converse with the countiy people on the state of public 
affairs, and point out to them, from his view, the ruinous 
effects of the disloyalty of the ring-leaders of the rebellion 
— erroneously supposing that it was the leaders onh' who 
gave impulse to the popular up-rising throughout the Colo- 
nies. He was as indefatigible in training them to his way 
of thinking, as he was in instructing them in military exer- 
cises. This condescension on his part was regarded as 
wonderful in a King's officer, and very naturally went far 
to secure the respect and obedience of all who came within 
the sphere of his almost magic inffuence.* 

Parties were sent out to scour the north-western portion 
of South Carolina, and apprehend all the Rebel leaders 
who could be found. Among those who had taken protec- 
tion, and were yet hurried off" as prisoners to Ninety Six, 
was Colonel John Thomas, Sr., of the Fair Forest settle- 
ment, then quite advanced in life. His devoted wife rode 
nearly sixty miles to visit him, and convey to him such com- 
forts as she had it in her power to bestow. While there, 
Mrs. Thomas overheard a conversation between some Tory 
women, of which her quick ear caught these ominous 

* Political Magazine, March, 1781, 125. 


words : "The Loyalists intend, to-morrow night, to surprise 
tlie Rebels at Cedar Spring." This intelligence was enough 
to thrill a mother's heart, for Cedar Spring was but a few 
miles beyond her Fair Forest home, and with the Whig 
force were manjr of her friends and neighbors, and some 
even of her own children. No time was to be lost — she 
intuitively resolved to do her best to apprise them of the 
enemy's intention before the meditated blow could be 
struck. She started early the next morning, and reached 
Cedar Spring that evening in time to give them warning 
of the impending danger, when she quietly repaired to her 
home, conscious of having done her duty to her country, as 
well as performed an act of the noblest humanity.* 

This was on the twelfth day of July, f Colonel John 
Thomas, Jr., the son of our heroine, had succeeded his 
father in command of the Fair Forest regiment, and headed 
the small band, some sixty in number, now encamped at 
the Cedar Spring. J Joseph Mcjunkin was one of the 
party. It seems to have been a camp formed for collecting 
the regiment, and drilling them, preparatory to joining 
Sumter. On receiving the timely intelligence of the 
intended British attack. Colonel Thomas and his men, after 
a brief consultation, retired a small distance in the rear of 
their camp fires, and awaited the impending onset. The 
enemy, one hundred and fifty strong, rushed upon the 
camp, where they expected to find the luckless Rebels pro- 

*In crediting Mrs. Jane Thomas with this heroic act, we are aware that Mills, in his 
Statistics of South Carolina, has accorded it to Mrs. Mary Dillard ; but the uniform testi- 
mony of the Thomas family, including Major Mcjunkin, who married a daughter oi Col- 
onel Thomas, gives the narrative as we have substantially related it. The occasion of her 
visit to Ninety Six, and residing in the neighborhood of Cedar Spring, go far to sustain this 
view of the matter. Mrs. Dillard. on the other hand, lived fully thirty miles south-east of 
Cedar Spring, and south of the Enoree river, in Lauren's District— and on the route Tarle- 
ton pursued when on his way to attack Sumter at Blackstock's on Tyger ; and Tarleton 
relates, that "a woman on horseback had viewed the line of march from a wood, and, by a 
nearer road, had given intelHgence '' to Sumter. That woman was Mrs. Dillard. 

-J- Compare McCall's Georgia, ii, 310; Moore's Diary, ii, 351 ; and Allaire's Diary, July 
14th and 15th. 

X Cedar Spring derived its name from a large cedar tree, that formerly ornamented the 
banks of this fine spring, which is about fifty feet in circumference. It has three principal 
fountains or sources of supply, which force the water from the bowels of the earth, forming 
a beautiful basin three feet deep. The water is impregnated with a small portion of lime. 


foundly enwrapped in slumber ; but, on the contrary, they 
were wide awake, and astonished the assailants with a 
volley of rifle balls. Several were slain, and the survivors 
scampered off badly demoralized. It was a short, quick, 
and decisive affair. Among the slain was a Tory named 
John White, well known to Major Mcjunkin, and who, 
in the early part of the war, had declined bearing arms 
against the Indians, on the trumped-up plea of being a non- 
combatant.* It was fortunate for Thomas' party, that 
this was a night attack, as the enemy had no opportunity 
of discovering their decided superioritj' ; and doubdess 
retired with the belief that the Americans must have num- 
bered several hundred. This embodying of the friends of 
liberty in the Fair Forest settlement, probably hastened the 
movement of Ferguson to that quarter. 
^ When Colonel Ferguson left his camp on Little river, 
he crossed the Enoree at Kelly's Ford, and encamped in the 
Fork, at the plantation of Colonel James Lj'les, who was 
then in service farther east, with Sumter. John Robison 
and others of this region were plundered bj' Ferguson's 
men. The desperate, the idle, the vindictive, who sought 
plunder or revenge, as well as the youthful Loyalists, whose 
zeal or ambition prompted them to take up arms, all found 
a warm reception at the British camp ; and their progress 
through the country was " marked with blood, and lighted 
up with conflagration.'' Irving graphically describes the 
character of these Tory recruits : "Ferguson," says Irving, 
" had a loyal hatred of Whigs, and to his standard flocked 
many rancorous Tories, beside outlaws and desperadoes, so 
that with all his conciliating intentions, his progress through 
the country was attended by many exasperating excesses." 
To coerce the Whigs to submission, and embody the 
Tories, and train them for war, Ferguson kept moving 
about the country, and sending out his detachments in every 

* Major Mcjunkin's MS. Statement, among the Saye papers; Mr. Saye's Memoir of 
Mcjunkin, al£0 Judge O'Neall's, in the Magnolia Magazine for Jan., 1843 ; Hist. Presbyte- 
rian Ch. 0/ So. Carolina, 534. 


direction. In the prosecution of these designs, he marched 
into Union District, camping on the south side of Tyger 
river, about half a mile below Blackstock's Ford, where 
the cripple spy, Joseph Kerr, made such observations as he 
could, and returned with the intelligence to Colonel Mc- 
Dowell, that about fifteen hundred of the enemy were 
penetrating the country ;* and thence Ferguson passed into 
the settlement then called "The Quaker Meadow," but 
since known as the Meadow Woods. On Sugar creek, 
a southern tributary of Fair Forest creek, f resided a 
number of determined Whigs named Blasingame, one of 
whom was arrested. Thence Ferguson moved up into 
the Fair Forest settlement, on the main creek of that 
name, camping at different times at McClendon's old field ; 
then between where J. Mcllwaine and J. H. Kelso since 
lived ; thence to where Gist resided a few years since, and 
thence to Cunningham's. He camped a while at Fair Forest 
Shoal, in Brandon's Settlement ; and subsequentl}' for three 
weeks on a hill, on the present plantation of the Hon. John 
Winsmith, eleven miles south of Cedar Spring, and two 
south of Glenn's Springs. During this period of several 
weeks, the Tories scoured all that region of country daily, 
plundering the people of their cattle, horses, beds, wearing 
apparel, bee-gums, and vegetables of all kinds — even wrest- 
ing the rings from the fingers of the females. Major Dun- 
lap and Lieutenant Taylor, with fort)^ or fifty soldiers, called 
at a Mrs. Thomson's, and taking down the family Bible 
from its shelf, read in it, and expressed great surprise that 
persons having such a book, teaching them to honor the 
King and obey magistrates, should rebel against their King 
and country ; but amid these expressions of holy horror, 

* Kerr's MS. personal statement, communicated by Colonel J. H. Wheeler; Hunter's 
Sketches of Western North Carolina, 120-21. 

\ " What 2. fair forest is this ! " exclaimed the first settlers. The name attached itself 
to the place, and then to the bold and lovely mountain stream, which sweeps on till its 
waters mingle with those of Broad river. — Rev. James H. Saye's Memoir of Major Joseph 
Mifi/rikin, and Sketches of the Reztolutionary History of South Carolina, 3.n interesting 
newspaper series published over thirty years ago. 


these officers suffered their troops to engage in ransacking 
and pkindering before their very eyes. 

From what we have seen, it is not wonderful that the 
Tories were soon as heartily despised by the British officers 
as by their own countrymen, the Whigs. But Ferguson 
was not the man to be diverted from his purpose by any 
acts of theirs of treachery and inhumanity. The crown 
had honors and rewards to bestow, and his eye rested upon 
them. He knew that "the defender of the faith" generally 
gave much more cash and more honors, for a single year of 
devoted service in mihtary enterprises, than for a life-time 
spent in such pursuits as exalt and ennoble human nature. 

The horses of Ferguson's men were turned loose in to any 
fields of grain that might be most convenient. Foraging 
parties brought in cattle to camp for slaughter, or wantonly 
shot them down in the woods and left them. As many 
Whigs as could be found were apprehended, not even 
excepting those who had previously taken protection. A 
few had been prompted to take protection, rather than for- 
sake their families, trusting thereby to British honor to 
secure them from molestation ; but thejr were soon hurried 
off to Ninety Six, and incarcerated in a loathsome prison, 
v^rhere they well nigh perished for want of sustenance. But 
most of those, at this time, capable of bearing arms, had 
retired to North Carolina, or were serving in Sumter's 
army ; so that Ferguson had an excellent opportunity to 
drill his new recruits, and support his men by pillaging the 
people. Occasionally small parties of Whigs would venture 
into the neighborhood — about often enough to afford the 
enemy good exercise in pursuing them while within striking 

Such an invasion as Ferguson's, with its terrors and 
aggravations, and the up-rising of the Tories in the western 
part of North Carolina, under the Moores, and Bryan, soon 
led to blows, with all the sufferings attendant on war and 

*Saye's MSS., ana Memoir 0/ Mcjunkin. 


carnage. The barbaiities meted out to the Americans at 
Buford's defeat, sarcasticallv denominated by the Whigs as 
Tarletoiis quarters, very naturally tended to embitter 
the animosities of the people. The Moores were signally 
defeated, in June, at Ramsour's Mill, and Bryan and his 
followers subsequently driven from the country. 

A noted partisan of Georgia, Colonel Elijah Clarke, now 
comes upon the scene. A native of Virginia, he earty settled 
on the Pacolet, whence he pushed into Wilkes County, 
Georgia, where the Revolutionarj- out-break found him. 
He was one of those sturdy patriots, well fitted for a 
leader of the people — one who would scorn to take protec- 
tion, or yield one iota to arbitrary power. When British 
detachments were sent into various parts oi Georgia, it 
became unsafe for such unflinching Whigs as Clarke longer 
to remain there. He and his associates resolved to scatter 
for a few days, visit their families once more, and then retire 
into South Carolina, where they hoped to find other heroic 
spirits ready to co-operate with them in making a stand 
against the common enemy. Some small parties had already 
left Georgia, and passing along the western frontiers of 
South Carolina, had sought the camp of Colonel Charles 
McDowell, who was then embodying a force on the south- 
western borders of the North Province. 

On the eleventh of July, one hundred and forty well- 
mounted and well-armed men met at the appointed place of 
rendezvous ; and, after crossing the Savannah at a private 
ford in the night, they learned that the British and Loyalists 
were in force on their front. Clarke's men concluded that 
it would be hazardous to continue their retreat on that route 
with their present numbers. As they were volunteers, and 
not subject to coercion. Colonel Clarke was induced to return 
to Georgia, sufier his men to disperse for a while, and await 
a more favorable opportunity to renew the enterprise. The 
majority of the party returned. 

Colonel John Jones, of Burke County, however, objected 


to a retrograde movement, and proposed to lead those who 
would go with him, through the woods to the borders of 
North Carolina, and join the American force in that quarter. 
Thirty-five men united with him, choosing him for their 
leader, and John Freeman for second in command, pledg- 
ing implicit obedience to their orders. Benjamin Lawrence, 
of South Carolina, a superior woodsman, and well ac- 
quainted with the country, now joined the company, and 
rendered them valuable service as their guide. Passing 
through a disaffected region, they adroitly palmed them- 
selves off as a Loyalist party, engaged in the King's ser- 
vice ; and, under this guise, they were in several instances, 
furnished with pilots, and directed on their route. 

When they had passed the head-waters of the Saluda, 
in the north-eastern part of the present county of Green- 
ville, one of these guides informed them, that a party of 
Rebels had, the preceding night, attacked some Loyalists 
a short distance in front, and defeated them — doubtless the 
British repulse at Cedar Spring, as already related, and 
which occurred some twenty-five or thirty miles away. Jones 
expressed a wish to be conducted to the camp of those im- 
fortunate Loyalist friends, that he might aid them in taking 
revenge on those who had shed the blood of the King's 
faithful subjects. About eleven o'clock on that night, July 
thirteenth, Jones and his little party were conducted to the 
Loyalist camp, where some forty men were collected to 
pursue ftie Americans who had retreated to the North. 
Choosing twenty-two of his followers, and leaving the bag- 
gage and horses in charge of the others, Colonel Jones 
resolved to surprise the Tory camp. Approaching the 
enemy with guns, swords, and belt-pistols, they found them 
in a state of self-security, and generally asleep. Closing 
quickly around them, they fired upon the camp, killing 
one and wounding three, when thirty-two, including the 
wounded, called for quarter, and surrendered. Destroying 
the useless guns, and selecting the best horses, the Loyal- 


ists were paroled as prisoners of war ; when the pilot, who 
did not discover the real character of the men he was 
conducting until too late to have even attempted to pre- 
vent the consequences, was now required to guide the 
Americans to Earle's Ford on North Pacolet river, where a 
junction was formed the next day with Colonel McDowell's 
forces. As McDowell had that day made a tedious march 
with his three hundred men, they, too, were in a fatigued 

Within striking distance of McDowell's camping ground, 
some twenty miles in a nearly southern direction, was Prince's 
Fort, originally a place of neighborhood resort in time of 
danger from the Indians, in the early settlement of the 
country, some twenty years before. This fort, now occu- 
pied by a British and Tory force, under Colonel Innes, was 
located upon a commanding height of land, near the head 
of one of the branches of the North Fork of Tyger, seven 
miles north of west from the present village of Spartanburg. 
Innes, unapprised of McDowell's approach, detached Major 
Dunlap, with seventy dragoons, accompanied by Colonel 
Ambrose Mills, with a party of Loyalists, in pursuit of 
Jones, of whose audacious operations he had just received 

McDowell's camp was on rising ground on the eastern 
side of the North Pacolet, in the present county of Polk, 
North Carolina, near the South Carolina line, and about 
twenty miles south-west of Rutherfordton ; and Dunlap 
reaching the vicinity on the opposite side of the stream dur- 
ing the night, and supposing that Jones' party only was en- 
camped there, commenced crossing the river, which was 
narrow at that point, when an American sentinel fled to camp 
and gave the first notice of the enemy's presence.* Dunlap, 
with his Dragoons and Tories, dashed instantly, with drawn 
swords, among McDowell's men, while but few of them 

* McCall, in his Hzst. of Georgia, asserts that the sentinel fired his gun, but James 
Thompson, one of Joseph McDowell's party, states as in the text, which seems to be cor- 
roborated by the complaint of Col. Hampton, and the general surprise of the camp. 


were yet roused out of sleep. The Georgians being nearest 
to the ford, were the first attacked, losing two killed and six 
wounded ; among the latter was Colonel Jones, who received 
eight cuts on his head from the enemy's sabres. Freeman, 
with the remainder, fell back about a hundred yards, where 
he joined Major Singleton, who was forming his men behind 
a fence ; while Colonels McDowell and Hampton soon 
formed the main body on Singleton's right. Being thus 
rallied, the Americans were ordered to advance, when Dun- 
lap discovering his mistake as to their numbers, quickly re- 
treated across the river, which was fordable in many places, 
and retired without much loss ; its extent, however, was un- 
known, beyond a single wounded man who was left upon 
the ground. 

Besides the loss sustained by the Georgians, six of Mc- 
Dowell's men were killed, and twentj'-four wounded. 
Among the killed were Noah Hampton, a son of Colonel 
Hampton, with a comrade named Andrew Dunn Young 
Hampton, when roused from his slumbers, was asked his 
name; he simply replied "Hampton," one of a numerous 
family and connection of Whigs, too well known, and too 
active in opposition to British rule, to meet with the least 
forbearance at the hands of enraged Tories ; and though he 
begged for his life, they cursed him for a Rebel, and ran him 
through with a bayonet. Young Dunn also suffered the 
same cruel treatment. Colonel Hampton felt hard towards 
Colonel McDowell, his superior officer, as he wished to 
have placed videttes beyond the ford, which McDowell 
opposed, believing it entirely unnecessary. Had this been 
done, due notice would in all probability have been given, 
and most of the loss and suffering have been averted.* 

* McCall's Hist, of Georgia, ii, 308-12; Saye's MSS.; MS. pension statements of Gen- 
eral Thomas Kennedy, of Kentucky, Robert Henderson, and Robert McDowell ; Moore's 
Diary 0/ the Revolution, ii. 351, .gives the date of the Pacolet fight as occurring "in the 
night of July fifteenth." and this on the authority of Govenor Rutledge, who was then at 
Charlotte. Judging from Allaire's Diary, it niust have been the night before. The par- 
ticulars of the killing of young Hampton and Dunn are derived from the MS. communi- 
cations of Adam. Jonathan, and James J. Hampton, grandsons of Colonel Hampton. 


The reason, presumably, why Colonel McDowell was 
over-confident of security was, that he had, the day before, 
detached his brother, Major Joseph McDowell, with a partjr 
to go on a scout, and ascertain, if possible, where the Tories 
lay ; but taking a wrong direction, he had consequently 
made no discovery.* Not returning, Colonel McDowell 
very naturally concluded that there was no portion of the 
enemy very near, and that he and his weary men could, 
with reasonable assurance of safety, take some needed 
repose. It was that very night, while Major McDowell 
was blundering on the wrong route, that Dunlap was able 
to advance undiscovered, and make his sudden attack. 

Before sunrise the ensuing morning, fifty-two of the 
most active men, including Freeman and fourteen of his 
party, mounted upon the best horses in the camp, were 
ordered to pursue the retreating foe, under the command 
of Captain Edward Hampton. After a rapid pursuit of two 
hours, they overtook the enemy, fifteen miles away ; and 
making a sudden and unexpected attack, completely routed 
them, killing eight of them at the first fire. Unable to rally 
his demoralized men, who had been taken unawares. Dun- 
lap made a precipitate, helter-skelter retreat towards Fort 
Prince, during which several of his soldiers were killed and 
wounded. The pursuit was continued within three hundred 
yards of the British fort, in which three hundred men were 
securely posted. At two o'clock in the afternoon, Hamp- 
ton and his men returned to McDowell's camp, with thirty- 
five good horses, dragoon equipage, and a considerable 
portion of the enemy's baggage, as the trophies of victory, 
and without the loss of a single man. It was a bold and 
successful adventure, worthy of the heroic leader and his 
intrepid followers. 

It is not a little remarkable, that three successive night 
fights should have occurred within a few miles of each 

* Statement of Captain James Thompson, of Madison County, Georgia, one of Major 
McDowell's party, preserved among the Saye MSS. 


other, and the two latter as military sequences of the former. 
First, the Tory attack on Colonel Thomas, at Cedar Spring, 
on the evening of the thirteenth of July ; then Colonel Jones' 
surprise of the remnant of this Loyalist party, on the night 
of the fourteenth ; and finally, the attack of Dunlap and 
Mills, in retahation, on Colonel McDowell's camp, ^t 
Earle's Ford of North Pacolet, on the night of the fifteenth. 
And in all three of these affairs, the Tories got the worst 
of it. 

McCall's Georgia, li, 312-13; and MS. pension statement of Jesse Neville, one of 
Hampton's party. It may not be inappropriate, in this connection, to add a few words 
relative to the hero of this courageous exploit. Captain Hampton was a brother of Colonels 
Wade, Richard, and Henry Hampton, of Sumter's army. He was a very active partisan, 
and reputed one of the best horsemen of his time. In May, 1775, with his brother, Preston 
Hampton, he was delegated by the people of the frontiers of South Carolina to visit the 
Cherokees, and see if, by a suitable "talk," they could not be made to comprehend the 
causes of the growing differences between the Colonies and the mother country. They 
met with a rude reception, Cameron and the British emissaries instigating the Indians to 
oppose their views ; and Cameron made them prisoners, giving their horses, a gun, a case 
of pistols and holsters, to the Indians. By some means, they escaped with their lives. 

The following year, 1776, while Edward Hampton was, with his wife, on a visit to her 
father, Baylis Earle, on North Pacolet, the Cherokees made an incursion into the valleys 
of Tyger, massacring Preston Hampton, his aged parents, and a young grandchild of 
theirs. Edward Hampton served on Williamson's expedition against the Cherokees, in the 
summer and autumn of that year; and though only a Lieutenant, he had the command of 
his company, and distinguished himself in a battle with the enemy, receiving the special 
thanks of his General for his bravery and good conduct on the occasion. 

After the destruction of the Hampton family, on the Middle Fork of Tyger, where he 
resided, he seems to have made his bome for a season on a plantation he possessed at 
Earle's Ford, where his father-in-law, Mr. Earle, resided. That he was the Captain 
Hampton who led the dashing foray against Dunlap on his retreat to Prince's Fort, is par- 
tially corroborated by Dr. Howe, in his History of the Presbyterian Church in South 
Carolina, p, 542, though erroneous as to the place of the occurrence; but Jesse Neville's 
pension statement renders the matter conclusive, supplying the first name of his Captain, 
which McCall fails to give in his details of that affair. 

Captain Hampton was killed the ensuing October, at or near Fair Forest creek, in the 
bosom of his family, by Bill Cunningham's notorious " Bloody Scout." He was in the 
prime of life, and in his death his country lost a bold cavalier. He was the idol of his 
family and friends. His descendants in Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas, are among the 
worthiest of people. Baylis Earle became one of the early judges of Spartanburg District, 
and was living in 1826, in his eighty-ninth year — MS. statement of Colonel John Carter, 
Watauga, May 30th, 1775; MS. letter of Colonel Elijah Clarke to General Sumter, October 
29th, 1780; Governor Perry's sketch of the Hampton Family, in the Magnolia Magazine, 
June. 1843, with a continuation, which appeared in the South Carolina papers, in 1B43, 
written by Colonel Wade Hampton, Sr., father of the present Senator Hampton, of that 



t780— July— August. 

McDowell sends for the Over-Mountain Men. — Clarke joins him, and 
pushes on to Sumter's Camp. — Capture and Escape of Captain 
Patrick Moore. — Moore s Plunderers. — Story of Jane Mcjunkin 
and Bill Haynesworth. — Shelby and the Motmtaineers arrive at 
McDowell's Camp. — Capture of Thicketty Fort. — Expedition to 
Brown's Creek and Fair Forest. — Fight at the Peach Orchard, near 
Cedar Spring, and Wofford' s Iron Works, and its incidents. — 
Saye's Account of the Action. — Bri.tish Report. — Contradictory 
Statements concerning the Conflict. 

When Colonel McDowell became convinced that Fer- 
guson's movement to the north-western portion of South 
Carolina, threatened the invasion of the North Province 
also, he not only promptly raised what force he could from 
the sparsely populated settlements, on the heads of Catawba, 
Broad and Pacolet rivers, to take post in the enemy's front 
and watch his operations ; but dispatched a messenger with 
this alarming intelligence to Colonels John Sevier and Isaac 
Shelby, on Watauga and Holston, those over-mountain 
regions, then a portion of North Carolina, but now of East 
Tennessee ; urging those noted border leaders to bring to 
his aid all the riflemen they could, and as soon as possible. 
Sevier, unable to leave his frontier exposed to the inroads 
of the Cherokees, responded at once to the appeal, by send- 
ing a part of his regiment under Major Charles Robertson ; 
and Shelby, being more remote, and having been absent on 
a surveying tour, was a few days later, but joined McDow- 
ell, at the head of two hundred mounted riflemen, about the 
twenty-fifth of July, at his camp near the Cherokee Ford 
of Broad river. 


Colonel Clarke did not long remain in Georgia. While 
there, he and his associates were necessarilj' compelled to 
secrete themselves in the woods, privately supplied with food 
by their friends. This mode of life was irksome, and soon 
became almost insupportable, without the least prospect of 
accomplishing anything beneficial to the public. The regi- 
ment was re-assembled, in augmented numbers, when, by 
a general desire, Colonel Clarke led them along the eastern 
slope of the mountains, directing their course towards 
North Carolina, where they could unite with others, and 
render their services useful to their country. Without mis- 
hap or adventure, they were joined by Colonel Jones, as 
they neared the region where they expected to find friends in 
the field. Clarke was soon after joined by the brave Cap- 
tain James McCall, with about twentj' men, from the region 
of Ninety Six, For want of confidence in Colonel Mc- 
Dowell's activity, or from some other cause, Clarke pushed 
on, and joined Sumter on or near the Catawba. 

The story of the captivity of Captain Patrick Moore, a 
noted Loyalist, now claims our attention. He had probably 
escaped from the slaughter at Ramsour's Mill, on the 
twentieth of June, when his brother, Colonel John Moore 
safety retired to Camden. Anxious lor the capture of Cap- 
tain Moore, Major Joseph Dickson and Captain William 
Johnston were sent out, in the fore part of July, with a 
party to apprehend this noted Toiy leader, and others of 
his ilk, if they could be found. The veteran Captain 
Samuel Martin, who had sensed in the old French and 
Indian war, was one of the party. On Dawson's Fork, of 
Pacolet river, near the Old Iron Works, since Bivingsville, 
and now known as Glendale,'* the parties met, and a 
skirmish ensued, in which Captain Johnston and the Tory 
leader had a personal rencontre. Moore was at length 

* Glendale is located on the Southern side of Lawson's Fork, while the Old Iron Works 
were on the same bank, fully half a mile above, where the old road once crossed the stream. 
" These Works," says Mills, in (826 "were burnt by the Tories, and never rebuilt." 


overpowered and captured ; but in the desperate contest, 
Johnston received several sword wounds on his head, and 
on the thumb of his right hand. While bearing his prisoner 
towards the Whig lines, a short distance away, he was rap- 
idly approached by several British troopers. Quickly 
attempting to fire his loaded musket at his pursuers, it unfor- 
tunately missed, in consequence of the blood flowing from 
his wounded thumb, and wetting his priming. This mis- 
fortune on his part enabled his prisoner to escape ; and, 
perceiving his own dangerous and defenceless condition, he 
promptly availed himself of a friendly thicket at his side, 
eluded his pursuers, and shortly after joined his command.* 

At this time, or soon after, Moore had command of Fort 
Anderson, or Thicketty Fort, as it was more generally 
called, situated a quarter of a mile north of Goucher Creek, 
and two and a half miles above the mouth of this small 
water-course, which empties into Thicketty Creek, a west- 
ern tributary of Broad river, uniting with that stream a few 
miles above its junction with Pacolet. It was a strong for- 
tress, built a few years before for defence against the Chero- 
kees, and was surrounded by a strong abatis, well fitted for 
a vigorous defence. It became a great place of resort and 
protecrion for Tory parties. They would sally forth from 
Thicketty Fort, and plunder Whig families in every direc- 
tion — so that women and children were often left without 
clothing, shoes, bread, meat, or salt. 

In the absence of Captain Nathaniel Jeffries, of that 
region, one of these phindering parties visited his house, 
appropriated such articles as they chose, built a fire on the 
floor, abused Mrs. Jeffries as the meanest of all Rebels, 
and drove off" the horses and cattle. On another occasion, 
the house of Samuel Mcjunkin, in Union District, a 
warm patriot, but too old for active military service, was 
visited by a party under Patrick Moore. They stayed all 

* Hunter's Sketches of Western North Carolina, 242; MS. Pension Statement of Cap- 
tain Samuel Martin. 


night ; and, when about to depart, stripped the family of 
bed-clothes and wearing apparel. A noted Tory, Bill 
Haynesworth, seized a bed-quilt, and placed it upon his 
horse, when Mcjunkin's sturdy daughter, Jane, snatched it, 
and a struggle ensued for the possession. The soldiers 
amused themselves by exclaiming — " Well done, woman ! " 
— "Well done. Bill ! " For once Moore's gallantry predomi- 
nated over his love of plunder ; and he swore roundly if Jane 
could take the quilt from Haynesworth, she should have it. 
Presently in the fierce contest. Bill's feet came in contact 
with some dirty slime in the yard, and slipped from under 
him, and he lay prostrate and panting on the ground. 
Jane, quick as thought, placed one foot upon his breast, and 
wresting the quilt from his grasp, retired in triumph, while 
poor Bill sneaked off defeated and crest-fallen. This brave 
woman was the sister of Major Mcjunkin. 

Nor was Miss Nancy Jackson, who lived in the Irish 
Settlement, near Fair Forest creek, less demonstrative in 
defence of her rights ; for she kicked a Tory down the 
stairs as he was descending, loaded- with plunder. In his 
rage, he threatened to send the. Hessian troops there the 
next day, which obliged the heroic girl to take refuge with 
an acquaintance several miles distant.* 

The intrepid Sumter, hearing of Ferguson's inroads 
beyond Broad river, directed Colonel Clarke and his 
Georgians, together with such persons in his camp as 
resided in that region, and desired to aid in its protection, 
to repair to that quarter. Captain William Smith, of 
Spartanburg, and his company, availed themselves of this 
privilege. Arriving at the Cherokee Ford, they met Colo- 
nel McDowell, when Colonel Shelby, together with Colonel 
Clarke, Colonel Andrew Hampton and Major Charles 
Robertson, of Sevier's regiment, were detached with six 
hundred men, to surprise Thicketty Fort, some twenty 

*MS. Saye papers; Saye's Memoir of Mcjunkin : Mrs. EUet's IVamen of the Revolu- 
tion, i ,i6a. 


miles distant. The)' took up the line of march at sunset, 
and surrounded the post at day-break the next morning. 
Colonel Shelby sent in Captain William Cocke, a volun- 
teer — in after years, a United States Senator from Ten- 
nessee — to make a peremptorj^ demand for the surrender 
of the garrison ; to which Moore replied that he would 
defend the place- to the last extremity. Shelby then 
drew in his lines to within musket shot of the enemy all 
around, with a full determination to make an assault. 

Shelby's gallant " six hundred " made so formidable an 
appearance, that on a second message, accompanied, we 
may well suppose, with words of intimidation, Moore, per- 
haps fearing another Ramsour's Mill onslaught, relented, 
and proposed to surrender, on condition that the garrison be 
paroled not to serve again during the war, unless exchanged, 
which was acceded to — the more readily, as the Ameri- 
cans did not care to be encumbered with prisoners. Thus 
ninety-three Loyalists, with one British Sergeant-Major, 
stationed there to discipline them, surrendered themselves 
without firing a gun ; and among the trophies of victory 
were two hundred and fifty* stand of arms, all loaded with 
ball and buck-shot, and so arranged at the port-holes, with 
their abundant supplies, that they could, had a Ferguson, » 
Dunlap, or a De Peyster been at their head, have resisted 
double the number of their assailants. f 

Among the spoils taken at King's Mountain, was th^' 
fragment of a letter, without date or signature — probably a 

*This is Shelby's statement; the MS. Cocke papers say "one hundred and fifty stand 
of arms were taken." 

tThe leading facts relative to the capture of Thicketty Fort arc taken from Haywood's 
History of Tennessee, 64; Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, 214; Memoir of Shelby, in 
National Portrait Gallery, written by Colonel Charles S. Todd. Shelby's son-in-law, and 
which appeared, revised, in the ]Vestern Monthly Magazine, in 1836; Breazeale's Life as 
it Is, 50 — all which statements closely follow a MS. account written by Shelby himself; MS. 
statement, preserved among the Saye papers, of John Jeffries, son of the plundered woman 
mentioned in the narrative; MS. papers of Hon. William Cocke furnish the name of the 
fort ; MS. pension statements of William Smith, of Lincoln county, Tennessee, Alex. Mc- 
Fadden, of Rutherford county. North Carohna, and John Clark, of Washington county, 
Tennessee, corroborating, in a general way, the facts of the capture ; and in a personal 
interview with Silas McBee, of Pontotoc county, Mississippi, in 1842, he confirmed Shelby's 
statement that ninety-four was the number of Moore's party captured. McBee lived on 
Thicketty at the time of the capture of Moore and his men. 


copy of a dispatch from Ferguson to Lord Cornwallis — in 
which this account is given of Thicketty Fort, Moore, and 
his surrender of the place : "It had an upper hue of loop- 
holes, and was surrounded by a very strong abatis, with 
only a small wicket to enter by. It had been put in thor- 
ough repair at the request of the garrison, which consisted 
of neighboring militia that had come to [the fort] ; and was 
defended b}' eighty men against two or three hundred ban- 
ditti without cannon, and each man was of opinion that it 
was impossible [for the Rebels to take it.] The officer next 
in command, and all the others, gave their opinion for de- 
fending it, and agree in their account that Patrick Moore, 
after proposing a surrender, acquiesced in their opinion, and 
offei-ed to go and signify as much to the Rebels, but re- 
turned with some Rebel officers, whom he put in possession 
of the gate and place, who were instantlj- followed by their 
men, and the fort full of Rebels, to the surprise of the gar- 
rison. He plead cowardice, I understand.!" 

The capture of Thicketty Fort occurred on Sunday, the 
thirtieth of July, as the connecting circumstances indicate, 
and Lieutenant Allaire's Diary proves. Shelb}' and his 
men, loaded with the spoils of victor^', returned at once to 
McDowell's camp near the Cherokee Ford. 

McDowell's force at this time could not have exceeded a 
thousand men, while Ferguson's must have reached fifteen to 
eighteen hundred. It was, therefore, the policy of the Ameri- 
cans to maintain their position near Cherokee Ford, guard 
against surprise, and harass their adversaries, until they 
should be able, with augmented numbers, to expel them 
from the country. Shortly after the Thickettj^ expedition, 
Colonel McDowell again detached Colonels Shelby, and 
Clarke, with Colonel William Graham, with a combined 
force of six hundred mounted men, to watch the movements 
of Ferguson's troops, and whenever possible, to cut off his 
foraging parties. They directed their course down Broad 

f Ramsey's Tennessee, 215. 


river some twenty-five miles to Brown's creek, in now 
Union county, where it was agreed they should assemble, 
and which was a better situation than the Cherokee Ford, 
to observe the operations of the British and Tories. But 
when only a few of the parties fairly began to collect at 
that point, a superior force of the enemy forced them to 
retire, when they bore off some thirty or forty miles to the 
upper portion of the Fair Forest settlement, within the 
present limits of Spartanburg. On the way, they seem to 
have gotten their force together. By watching their op- 
portunity, they hoped to gain some decided advantage 
over their opponents, whom they well knew they would 
encounter in large numbers in that quarter. Hearing 
of these bold Rebel troopers, Ferguson made several in- 
effectual attempts to surprise them. But our frontier heroes 
were too watchful to be caught napping. Clarke and 
Shelby, with their men, were constantly on the alert — hav- 
ing no fixed camp, so that they were difficult to find. 

On the evening of August seventh, Clarke and Shelby, 
with their troops, stopped for refreshment — and, if not dis- 
turbed, for a night's repose — on Fair Forest creek, nearly 
two miles west of Cedar Spring, at a point where the old 
road crossed that stream, leading thence to Wofford's Iron 
Works, and thence onward to the Cherokee Ford. Several 
trusty scouts were sent out to make discoveries, who re- 
turned before day the next morning, with the intelligence 
that the enemy were within half a mile of them. About 
the same moment, the report of a gun was heard, in the 
direction of the British party, which was afterward ascer- 
tained to have been fired by one of Dunlap's men — one who 
felt some compunctions of conscience at the idea of surpris- 
ing and massacring his countrymen, but who, protesting 
that it was accidental, was not suspected of treachery. 
The Americans, from prudential motives, retreated toward 
the old Iron Works, on Lawson's Fork of Pacolet, leaving 
Cedar Spring apparently a mile to the right ; and taking 



position not very far from the old orchard on the Thompson 
place, which was some three or four miles from the ford over 
Fair Forest, and something like a mile and a half from the 
Iron Works, and about a mile from Cedar Spring. Here 


A — Thompson's Place and Peach Orchard. B— Where one part of the battle is said 
to have been fought. C — Old Iron Works. D — Glendale or Bivingsville. E — Peach Tree 
Grave. F — Pacolet Hill, G — Cedar Spring. 

suitable ground was chosen, and the men formed for battle, 
when the spies came running in with the information that 
the enemy's horse were almost in sight. Before their re- 
tirement from their former temporary camp at Fair Forest, 
Josiah Culbertson, one of the bravest of young men, who 
had recently joined Shelby, had obtained permission to 
return home, two or three miles distant on Fair Forest, 
spend the night, and make such observations as he might, 
of any enemy in that quarter. About day-light the next 
morning, he rode fearlessly into the encampment he had 
left the evening before, supposing it still to be occupied 


by his American friends, not knowing that they had de- 
camped, and Dunhip had just taken possession of it. But 
Culbertson \\'as equal to the emergenc}', for, seeing ever}-- 
thing so different from what it was the previous evening, he 
was quick to disco^•er his mistake ; and with extraordinar}^ 
coolness and presence of mind, he rode ver^- leisurely out 
of the encampment, with his ti^usty rifle resting on the pom- 
mel of his saddle before him. As he passed along, he ob- 
served the dragoons getting their horses in readiness, and 
making other preparations indicating an immediate renewal 
of their line of march. No particular notice was taken of 
him in the British camp, as it was supposed that he was one 
of their own men, who had got ready for the onward move- 
ment before his fellows. But when out of sight, he dashed 
olT with good speed in the direction he inferred that Clarke 
and Shelbj' had gone, and soon overtook his friends, and 
found they had chosen their ground, and were prepared for 
the onslaught. 

Major Dunlap was an officer of much energ}' and 
promptitude, and soon made his appearance, with a strong 
force, part Colonial dragoons and part mounted militia, 
and commenced the conflict. The Whigs were as eager 
for the fray as the over-confident Britons. The action 
lasted half an hour, and was severely contested. Dun- 
lap's mounted volunteer riflemen, it is said, who were in 
front, recoiled, giving back at the verj^ first fire of their op- 
ponents, and their commander found it difficult to rally 
them, riaving at length succeeded, he placed himself at 
the head of his dragoons, and led them on to renew the 
contest, followed by the mounted riflemen, who were, how- 
ever, averse to coming into very close quarters. Dunlap's 
dragoons, with their- broad-swords, played a prominent part 
in the action ; and from the disproportion of Tories killed 
over the dragoons, according to the British account, which 
is doubtful, it would appear that Clarke and Shelby's rifle- 
men must have been busy in picking them off". During the 


mentioned the cii-cumstance of his ceasing, in the midst of 
the battle, to witness, with astonishment and admiration, the 
remarkable and unequal struggle Clarke was maintaining 
with his foes. In the fierce hand-to-hand contest, he re- 
ceived two sabre wounds, one on the back of his neck, and 
the other on his head — his stock-buckle saving his life ; and 
he was even, for a few minutes, a prisoner, in charge of two 
stout Britons ; but, taking advantage of his strength and 
acrivity, he knocked one of them down, when the other 
quickly fled out of the reach of this famous back-woods 
Titan. Clarke was every inch a hero, and was indebted 
to his own good pluck and prowess for his escape from his 
enemies, with only shght wounds, and the loss of his hat, in 
the ■mcIee.'': 

Culbertson, with his characteristic daring, had a personal 
adventure worthy of notice. Meeting a dragoon, some 
distance from support, who imperiousl}^ demanded his sur- 
render, the intrepid American replied by whipping his rifle 
to his shoulder and felling the haughty Briton from his 
horse. When the dead were buried the next day, this 
dragoon was thrown into a hole near where he lay, and 
covered with earth. He happened to have at the time some 
peaches in his pocket, from which a peach tree grew, and 
for many years after, bore successive crops of fruit. The 
grave is yet pointed out, but the peach tree has long since 
disappeared. A worthy person in that region recently died 
nearly a hundred years of age, who used to relate that he 
had, in early life, eaten fi-uitfrom that tree.f The graves of 
some twenty or thirty others, who fell in this engagement, 
says Governor Perry, were yet to be seen as late as 1842. 

*McCall mentions that Colonel Clarke and his son were wounded both at Wufford's 
Iron Works and at Musgrove's, giving the particulars as occurring at the latter; while 
Shelby notices their having been wounded only at the former, instancing his heroic ren- 
contre there ; and an eye-witness, William Smith, of Tennessee, relates that Clarke received 
a sword wound in the neck, and lost his hat near WofFord's, returning to McDowell's camp 

-|-MS. letters of N. F. Walker, Esq., of Cedar Spring, June 15th and July 7th, 1880. 


It is questionable, however, if so many, on both sides, were 
killed in the action.* 

By some adroit management, a number of British pris- 
oners were captured, and at length Dunlap was beaten 
back with considerable loss. Mills states that he was pur- 
sued a mile, but could not be overtaken. About two miles 
below the battle-ground, Dunlap's fugitives were met by 
Ferguson with his whole force, who together advanced 
to the Iron Works, from which, as they came in sight, 
a few hours after the action, Clarke and Shelby were 
compelled to make a hasty retreat, leaving one or two of 
their wounded behind them — not having time or conveni- 
ences to convey them away ; but they were treated by 
Ferguson with humanity, and left there when he retired. 
As Clarke and Shelby expected, Ferguson now pursued 
them, with the hope of regaining the prisoners. The 
American leaders retired slowly, forming frequently on the 
most advantageous ground to give battle, and so retarding 
the pursuit, that the iirisoners were finally placed beyond 

Three miles north-east of the old Iron Works, they 
came to Pacolet ; just beyond which, skirting its north- 
east border, rises a steep, rocky hill, fifty to sixty feet high, 
so steep where the road passed up at that day, that the 
men, in some cases, had to help their horses up its difficult 
ascent. Along the crest of this hill or ridge, Shelby and 
Clarke displayed their little force ; and when Ferguson and 
his men came in view, evincing a disinclination to pursue 
any farther, the patriots, from their vantage-ground, ban- 
tered and ridiculed them to their hearts' content. But 
Ferguson, having maintained the chase four or five miles, 

* Major A. J. Wells, of Montevallo, Alabama, a native cf Spartanburg, ni.rrates a 
singular incident which must relate to this battle. After the war, the widow of a Tory 
came to the neglected burial place, and had the fallen dead disinterred, from which she 
readily selected the remains of her husband, for he was six and a half feet high, and piously 
bore them to her distant home for a more Christian interment. 


now abandoned it, with nothing to boast of, save his 
superior numbers.* 

Mr. Saye's account of this affair, as gathered from the 
traditions of the neighborhood, and published thirty-three 
years ago, may very properl}^ supplement the narrative just 
related — with the passing remark, that what he describes as 
the battle at the peach-orchard, was probably but one of 
the episodes of that day's heroic exploits, and yet it ma}' 
have been the principal one : Shelby's force occupied a 
position near the present site of Bivingsville. Various 
attempts were made to fall upon the Americans by surprise ; 
but these schemes were baffled. About four miles from 
Spartanburg Court House, on the main road to Unionville, 
is an ancient plantation known as 'Thompson's Old Place.' 
It is an elevated tract of country, lying between the tribu- 
taries of Fair Forest Creek on one side, and those of Law- 
son's Fork of Pacolet on the other — and about midway 
between Cedar Spring and the Iron Works. 

A road leading from North Carolina to Georgia, by the 
way of the Cherokee Ford of Broad river, passed through 
this place, and thence by or near the Cedar Spring. A 
person passing from the direction of Unionville towards 
Spartanburg Court House, crosses this ancient highway, 
after passing which, by looking to the right, the eye rests 
upon a parcel of land extending down a hollow, which was 
cleared and planted in fruit trees prior to the Revolutionary 
war. Beyond this hollow, just where the road enters a 
body of woodland, there are yet some traces of a human 
habitation. In this orchard, two patrol parties met from the 
adverse armies. The party from Dunlap's camp were in 
the orchard gathering peaches ; the Liberty men fired on 
them, and drove them from the place. In turn, the victors 
entered the orchard, but the report of their guns brought out 

* MS notes of conversations with the late Colonel George Wilson, of Nashville, Ten- 
nessee, who derived the facts from his father-in-law, Alexander Greer, one of Major 
Robertson's men on the expedition. MS. letters of Hon. Simpson Bobo and A, H. 
Twichell, showing the locality of the Pacolet hill. 


a strong detachment from the Cedar Spring, as well as a 
reinforcement from Shelby. The commander of the patrol, 
when he saw the enemy approaching, drew up his men 
under cover of the fence along the ridge, just where the old 
field and woodland now meet, and where traces of an old 
residence are now barely visible. Here he awaited their 

The onset was furious, but vigorously met. The conflict 
was maintained against fearful odds till the arrival of 
reinforcements from Shelby's camp. The scale now 
turned, and the assailants now fell back. The whole force 
of Shelby and Clarke were soon in battle array, confronted 
by the whole British advance, numbering six or seven hun- 
dred men. The struggle was renewed with redoubled fury. 
The Liberty men drove back their foes, when the whole 
British army came up. A retreat was now a matter of 
necessity. Such is the local tradition ; but local tradition, 
especially in this case, is extremely liable to error and con- 
fusion, from the fact that but few of the people of that quar- 
ter were present in the action — for the actors were mostly 
from other States, and probably strangers to the neighbor- 
hood. Thus far, Mr. Saye's narrative. 

Onl)' two British accounts of the action at Cedar Spring 
have come to our knowledge — one bears date Savannah, 
Georgia, August twenty-fourth, 1780. It appeared in Riv- 
mgton's TVezt' 2'drk Royal Gazette^ of September fourteenth, 
copied into the London Chronicle, of November sixteenth, 
ensuing. It has every appearance of being a one-sided and 
diminuitve statement of the affair : " We learn from Augusta, 
that a Captain of the Queen's Rangers, with twenty-four 
dragoons, and about thirty militia, lately charged about 
three hundred Rebels above Ninety Six. Whilst they were 
engaged. Colonel Ferguson happily got up with some men 
to the assistance of our small party, which obliged the 
enemy to take to their heels. Fifty of the Rebels were 
killed and wounded ; a Major Smith was among the slain, 




and a Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke was wounded, and died 
next day. Our loss is said to be one dragoon and seven 
militia killed." 

Allaire supplies the other account : " Got to the ground 
the Rebels were encamped on, at four o'clock on Tuesday 
morning, August eighth. They had intelligence of our 
move, and were likewise alarmed by the firing of a gun in 
our ranks ; they sneaked from their ground about half an 
hour before we arrived. Learning that the Rebel wagons 
were three miles in front of us at Cedar Springs, Captain 
Dunlap, with fourteen mounted men, and a hundred and 
thirty militia, were dispatched to take the wagons. He met 
three Rebels coming to reconnoitre our camp ; he pursued, 
took two of them, the other escaped, giving the Rebels the 
alarm. In pursuit of this man, Dunlap and his part}' 
rushed into the centre of the Rebel camp, where they lay 
in ambush, before he was aware of their presence. A 
skirmish ensued, in which Dunlap got slightly wounded, 
and had between twenty and thirty killed and wounded — 
Ensign McFarland and one private taken prisoners. The 
Rebel loss is uncertain — a Major Smith, Captain Potts, and 
two privates were left dead on the field. Colonel Clarke, 
Johnson [Robertson,] and twenty privates were seen 
wounded. We pursued them five miles, to the Iron Works ; 
but were not able to overtake them, they being all mounted." 

Among the slain was Major Burwell Smith, who had 
contributed greatly to the setdement of the frontier portion 
of Georgia, where he had been an active and successful 
partisan in Indian warfare, and his fall was deeply lamented 
by Colonel Clarke and his associates. Captain John Potts* 
and Thomas Scott were also among the slain. Besides 
Colonel Clarke's slight wounds with a sabre, Major Charles 
Robertson, a volunteer from the Watauga troops, and Cap- 

=^'This is stated on the anthority of Colo:icI Graham, who participated in the action, 
corroborated by Lieutenant Allaire's Diary, A. H, Twichel]^ Esq., of Glendale, states as 
the tradition of an old resident of that region, that an American officer named Potter was 
shot out of a peach tree at Thompson's place. This doubtless refers to Captain Potts. 


tain Jolin Clarke, the youthful son of the Colonel, yet in his 
teens, and several others, were also wounded in the same 
manner. This close hand-to-hand sabre fighting, which 
McCall describes, contradicts his previous description of the 
action as if it were simply a " distant firing " upon each 
other. It shows, too, that the back-woods riflemen did not 
take to their heels on the approach of the dragoons with 
their glittering broad-swords. 

It is not easy to determine the actual strength of the 
parties engaged in this spirited contest, nor their respective 
losses. McCall does not specify how many on either side 
took part in the conflict — only that the Americans were out- 
numbered ; erroneously naming Innes as the British com- 
mander ; and states that the enemy pursued Colonel Clarke 
to Woffbrd's Iron Works, where he had chosen a strong 
position from which the British endeavored to draw 
him, and that a distant firing continued during the after- 
noon, until near night ; that the Americans lost four killed 
and five or six wounded, while the enemjr lost five killed 
and eleven wounded. Mills mentions in one place in his 
work, that Clarke's force was one hundred and sixty-eight, 
in another, one hundred and ninety-eight, evidently ignorant 
of the presence of Colonels Shelby and Graham, witli their 
followers ; that Ferguson and Dunlap combined, numbered 
between four and six hundred, of which Dunlap's advance 
consisted of sixty dragoons and one hundred and« fifty 
mounted volunteer riflemen ; that the Americans had four 
killed and twenty-three wounded, all by the broad-sword ; 
while Dunlap lost twenty-eight of his dragoons, and six or 
seven of his Tory volunteers killed, and several wounded. 
Shelby, in Haywood, states Ferguson's full force at about 
two thousand strong — which Todd augments to twenty-five 
himdred — of which Dunlap's advance was reputed at six or 
seven hundred ; that the strength of the Americans was six 
hundred ; and acknowledges that ten or twelve of the 
latter were killed and wounded, but does not state the loss 


of their assailants. Colonel Graham gives no numbers, but 
asserts that many of the enemj' were killed. These several 
statements differ very much from the British reports, and 
from each other. 

In Shelby's account as originally pubhshed in Hay- 
wood's Tennessee, and then in Ramsey's, the number of 
prisoners taken is stated at "twenty, with two British offi- 
cers," which in Todd's memoir of Shelby, are increased to 
" fifty, mostly British, including two officers ; " and Colonel 
Graham in his pension statement, places the number at 
only half a dozen, and Allaire at only two. 

As to the particular time in the day in which the contest 
took place, there is also quite a variety of statements. 
Mills places it before day, when so dark that it was hard to 
distinguish friend from foe — his informant doubtless refer- 
ring, not to Dunlap's fight, but to the prior attack upon 
Colonel Thomas, at Cedar Spring, which he so signally 
repelled. , 

McCall states that it occurred in the afternoon ; Shelby 
is silent on this point ; while Governor Perry's traditions 
convey the idea that it was in the morning or fore part of 
the day, and in this he is corroborated by Captain William 
Smith,* as well as by the MS. Diary of Lieutenant 

Colonel Graham onlj'- refers to the time of dajr inferen- 

* Captain Smith was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, September 20th, 1751, and 
earlj' settled in what is now Spartanburg County, South Carolina. He served in Captain 
Joseph Wofford's company on the Snow campaign, in 1775 ; and the next year as Lieuten- 
ant on Willi.amson's expedition against the Cherokees. Jd 1777, he was made a Captain in 
the militia and was stationed in Wood's Fort on Tyger. In December, 1778, he was 
ordered to Georgia, serving under General Lincoln; and shared in the battle of Stono, in 
June, 1779; in the contests, as we have seen, near Wofford's Iron Works, Hanging Rock, 
and Musgrove's Mill, in August, 1780 ; and subsequently at the battle of Blackstocks, in the 
siege of Fort Granby, at Guilford Court House, Quinby Bridge, the affair at the Juniper, 
and the capture of some British vessels at Watboo Landing under Colonel Wade Hampton. 
In the latter part of the war he ranked as Major. After the war, he was chosen County 
Judge, member of Congress from 1797 to 1799, and State Senator for twenty years. Few 
men served the public longer or more faithfully in military and civil life than judge Smith. 
He died June 22d, r.837, in the eighty-sixth year of his age. His widow survived till 
October 2d, 1842. 


tiall}', b}' stating that it was "several hours" after the 
action before Ferguson, with his combined force, came in 
sight, when Slielby and liis men precipitately retired. 

Precisely where the fight took place has also been 
a subject of dispute — the result, no doubt, of the general 
vagueness of the descriptions. Mills says it occurred at 
the Green Springs, meaning Cedar Spring, near Wofford's 
old Iron Works ; Shelby says at Cedar Spring, as does 
Samuel Espy, of North Carolina, who was also in the 
action. Had these two men, and Mills' informant, stated the 
locality with more exactitude, they might, and probably 
would, have said, that they named the Cedar Spring as a 
permanent landmark, near which the contest transpired, 
and so located it — the same as Gates' defeat is frequently 
referred to as having occurred at Camden, when it really 
took place some seven miles distant. Colonel Graham, one 
of the prominent officers in that affair, refers to it as " at 
Wofford's Iron Works ;" Alexander McFadden, a survivor 
of the contest, speaks of it as "the battle of Wofford's Iron 
Works ;" while McCall, the historian, sa3's the enemy pur- 
sued the Americans "to Wofford's Iron Works, where they 
chose their ground, and awaited the attack." 

William Smith, of Tennessee, another survivor of the 
contest says, "we had a battle near Wofford's Iron Works ; " 
and Captain William Smith, of Spartanburg, who was an 
intelligent officer in the fight, and resided within a few miles 
of the battle-ground the most of his long life, states that the 
contest took place "near the old Iron Works.'' His son, 
Hon. John Winsmith, in a historical address he made at 
Cedar Spring, in 1855, and verbally repeated to the writer 
in 1871, describes the hill, then covered with timber, nearly 
half a mile north-east of Cedar Spring, as the locality of 
the battle. It is possible that the first half-hour's contest, 
where Clarke had his desperate personal rencontre with 
unequal odds, may have taken place near this hill, as Dr. 
Winsmith believes. " On this locality," says N. F. Walker, 


"within my recollection, a musket-barrel was found, and 
near where we think the dead were buried."* 

But as Cedar Spring seems not to have been on the 
old route pursued by the contending parties, the weight 
of evidence, and all the circumstances, go to show that 
the chief fighting was "near the old Iron Works," as 
Captain William Smith positively asserts. Mr. Saye's 
traditions of the neighborhood, collected there prior to 
1848, fix the locality of, at least, one portion of the con- 
test, at the old orchard on the Thompson place, between the 
Cedar Spring and the old Iron Works, about one mile from 
the former, and nearly two from the latter. The fact that 
the graves of the Tory dead, including the one from which 
the peach tree sprung, are near the old Thompson orchard, 
and between it and Cedar Spring, sufficiently attest the 
locality where, at least, the principal part of this notable 
passage at arms occurred. 

More space has been devoted to these two somewhat 
blended affairs — the one at the Cedar Spring, where Colo- 
nel Thomas repulsed the enemy, and the other near Thomp- 
son's peach-orchard — than, perhaps, their real importance 
in history would seem to warrant. At the period of their 
occurrence, they exerted a marked influence on the people 
of the upper region of Carolina, as demonstrating what 
brave and determined men could accomplish in defense of 
their own and their country's rights ; and how successfully 
they could meet an insolent foe, alike in ambush, or on the 
battle-field. As no contemporary records of these events 
have come down to us, save the vague and unsatisfactory 
British ones which we have given entire, and the tradition- 
ary accounts have become more or less intermixed and con- 
fused, it seemed proper to sift them as thoroughly as possi- 
ble, and present the simple narrative of the occurrences as 
the facts seem to indicate. 

* It may well have been at this hill where the previous Tory attack was made on 
Colonel Thomas. It was a fit place, then covered with timber, to have formed his success- 
ful ambuscade. 


The difficulty has hitherto been, on the part of histori- 
cal writers, in attempts to blend the two affairs, when the 
time, details, and different commanding officers, all go very 
clearly to prove that they were entirely distinct, and had 
no connection whatever with each other. It is due to the 
Rev. Mr. Saye, to state that he was the first person who 
discovered the incongruity of applying the details to a sin- 
gle action ; but he was unable to fix their respective dates, 
or determine which took the precedence of the other in 
point of time. McCall's History of Georgia has furnished 
the key to unlock the difficulty with reference to the time 
of the attack on Thomas' force at Cedar Spring, and all the 
circumstances go to confirm it ; while the hitherto unpub- 
lished Diary of Lieutenant Allaire determines the date of 
the affair near Wofford's Iron Works.* 

*The authorities consulted in the preparation of this notice of the action near Cedar 
Spring and Wofford's Iron Works, are: McCall's Georgia, ii. 314; Haywood's Tennessee, 
64-65; Mills' Statistics of South Carolina, 256,738-39; Todd's Meinoir 0/ Shelby : Governor 
Perry's account in the Magnolia Magazine, August, 1842 ; New York Royal Gazette, Sep- 
tember 14th, 1780; London Chronicle, November i6th, 1780; Saye's Memoir of Mcfunkin, 
and the Saye MSS.; MSS. of Dr. John H, Logan ; Allaire's MS. Diary; Winsmith's Ad- 
dress^ 1855 ; together with the MS. pension statements of Colonel William Graham, Cap- 
tain William Smith, of Spartanburg, Samuel Espy, Alexander McFadden, and William 
Smith, of Tennessee, all participants in the action ; also MS. notes of conversations with 
Colonel George Wilson, of Tennessee. I am indebted to N, F, Walker, Esq., of Cedar 
Spring, and A. H. Twichell, Esq., of Glendale, for traditions, and descriptions of the 
localities connected with the battle and the retreat. 

Ramsay, Moultrie, Lee"s Memoirs, Johnson's Greene, and other early writers, do not 
even notice this action ; nor such modern historians as Bancroft, Hildreth, and Stevens. 
Lossing, Wheeler, Simms, Ramsey's Tennessee, and O'Neall's Nenuberry briefly refer to it ; 
while Mrs. Ellet, in her Women of the Revolution, and her Domestic History of the Revo- 
lution, simply copies from Mills, misapplying the story of .Mrs. Dillard's adventure. 

I have not cited what passes for Colonel Hammond's account of the battle, in a news- 
paper series, and also in Johnson's Traditions of the Reziohition, simply because he could 
not have written it; but it was evidently manufactured from Mills' Statistics, with some 
imaginary interlardings, to give it a new appearance. Dawson, in his Battles of the United 
Statesj has given a chapter on this affair^ based on the pretended Hammond narrative. 



1780— August 18. 

Musgroves Mill Expedition and Battle. — Rencontre of the Patrol Par- 
ties. — British Alarm. — Information of the Enemy's Reinforce^nent. 
— Whigs throw up Breast-works. — Captain Inmari s Stratagem. — 
Enemy Drawn into the Net prepared for them. — Desperate Fight- 
ing. — Innes and other British Leaders Wounded. — Tory Colonel 
Clary's Escape. — Captain Inman Killed — The Retreat and the 
Rout. — Incidents at the Ford. — Sam Moore's Adventure. — The Brit- 
ish and Tory Reserve. — A British Patrol Returns too late to share 
inthe Battle. — Bicrial of the slain. — Length and severity of the Actioft. 
— Respective Losses. — News of Gates' Defeat — its Influence. — Whigs' 
Retreat. — Anecdote of Paul Hinson.^- The Prisoners. — Williatns' Re- 
ward. — Cprnwallis' Confession. — Comparison of Authorities. 

Returning from their Fair Forest expedition, Clarke 
and Shelby's men needed a little repose. McDowell soon 
after removed his camp from the Cherokee Ford, taking 
post, some ten miles below, on the eastern bank of 
Broad River, at Smith's Ford. By his faithful scouts, 
Colonel McDowell was kept well informed of Ferguson's 
movements and out-posts. Learning that a body of some 
two hundi-ed Loyalists were stationed at Musgrove's Mill, 
some forty miles distant on the Enoree, to guard the rocky 
ford at that place, it was regarded as a vulnerable point — 
all the more so, since Ferguson, with his main force, was 
stationed considerably in advance, between that place and 
the American encampment, thus tending to lull into security 
those in their rear. 

The term of enlistment of Colonel Shelby's regiment 
was about to expire, and that enterprising officer was 
desirous of engaging in another active service before retir- 
ing to his home on the Holston. Colonels Shelby and 


Clarke were appointed to lead a party of mounted men to 
surprise or attack the Loyalists at Musgrove's. With Clarke 
was Captain James McCall and Captain Samuel Hammond. 
Colonel James Williams, whose home was in that region, 
but who had been driven from it, had, on the sixteenth of 
August, joined McDowell with a few followers — prominent 
among whom were Colonel Thomas Brandon, Colonel James 
Steen, and Major Mcjunkin ; and these united with Shelby 
and Clarke, together with several other experienced officers, 
who volunteered to share in the enterprise, among whom 
were Major Joseph McDowell, the brother of the Colonel, 
Captain David Vance, and Captain Valentine Sevier, and 
with the latter, a number of Watauga and Nolachucky- rifle- 

It was largely rumored, that a military chest was either 
at Musgrove's, or was being conveyed from Ninety Six to 
Ferguson's camp ; and the Whigs hoped to intercept it on 
the way. Whatever influence this prospect of obtaining 
British treasure may have exerted on the volunteers, as we 
hear no more of the chest, we may conclude that it was a 
camp 5'arn, gotten up for the occasion; or, if a reality, it 
certainly eluded the grasp of the adventurers. 

Secrecy and dispatch were necessary to success. A 
night march was therefore chosen, when less likely to be 
observed, and cooler for the horses to travel. Shelby and 
his two hundred adventurous followers left camp an hour 
before sun-down, on the seventeenth of August. Williams, 
Brandon, and their men, were well acquainted with the 
country, and knew the best route to effect their purpose. 
They traveled through the woods until dark, when they fell 
into a road, and proceeded on all night, much of the way in 
a canter, and without making a single stop — crossing 
Gilky's and Thicketty creeks, Pacolet, Fair Forest, and 
Tj'ger, with other lesser streams, and passing within three 
or four miles of Ferguson's camp on their left, v\'hich was, 
at this time, at Fair Forest Shoal, in Brandon's settlement, 


some t\vent3'-six miles from Smith's Ford ; and from Fair 
Forest Shoal, it. was still twelve or fourteen miles to Mus- 
grove's. It was a hard night's ride. 

Arriving, near the dawn of da}-, within a mile nearlj' 
north of Musgrove's Ford, the Whig party halted at an old 
Indian field, and sent out a party of five or six scouts to 
reconnoitre the situation. They crossed the mouth of Cedar 
Shoal Creek, close to the Spartanburg line, a short distance 
below Musgrove's Mill, and then passed up a by-road to 
Head's Ford, a mile above Musgrove's, where they forded 
the Enoree, and stealthily approached sufficiently near the 
Tory camp to make observations. Returning the same 
route, when on the top of the river ridge, west of Cedar 
Shoal creek, they encountered a small Tory patrol, which 
had passed over at Musgrove's Ford, during their absence 
above, and thus gained their rear. A sharp firing ensued, 
when one of the enemy was killed, two wounded, and two 
fled precipitately to the Tory camp. Two of the Ameri- 
cans were slightly wounded, who, with their fellows, now 
promptly returned to Shelby and Clarke's halting place, 
with the intelligence they had gained, and the particulars 
of their skirmish. 

This firing, and the speedy arrival of the two patrol- 
men, put the Tory camp in wild commotion. Colonel 
Innes, Major Fraser, and other officers who had their head- 
quarters at Edward Musgrove's residence, held a hurried 
council. Innes was for marching over the river at once, 
and catching the Rebels before they had time to retreat ; 
while others contended for delay, at least till after break- 
fast, by which time, it was hoped, a party of one hundred 
mounted men, who had gone on a patrol, eight miles below, 
near Jones' Ford, would return, and thus add very materi- 
ally to their strength. But Innes' counsels prevailed, lest 
they should miss so fine an opportunity "to bag" a scurvy 
lot of ragamuffins, as they regarded the adventurous Ameri- 
cans. So leaving one hundred men in camp as a reserve, 


preparations were made for an immediate advance to meet 
the unexpected invaders. 

Meanwhile, Shelby and Clarke had taken position on a 
timbered ridge, some little distance east of Cedar Shoal 
creek, and within about half a mile of Musgrove's Ford and 
Mill. At this juncture, a countryman, who lived near by, 
came up, giving information that the British had been rein- 
forced the preceding evening, by the arrival of Colonel 
Alexander Innes, from Ninety Six, with two hundred men 
of the Provincial regiments, and one hundred Tories, des- 
tined to join Colonel Ferguson. A British writer represents, 
that Innes' detachment consisted of a light infantry com- 
. pany of the New Jersey Volunteers, under Captain Peter 
Campbell ; a company of De Lancey's Provincial Battalion, 
under Captain James Kerr, together with about one hundred 
mounted men of his own regiment, the South Carolina 
Royalists. This could not have included the regular garri- 
son previously stationed there, apparently under the com- 
mand of Major Fraser. Captain Abraham De Peyster, of 
the King's American regiment, as well as the noted Loyalist 
partisan. Captain David Fanning, were also there ; while 
Colonel Daniel Clary was encamped there, at the head of 
the Tories of that region. 

So minute were the circumstances of the information 
communicated by the countryman, that no doubt was enter- 
tained of its truth ; and to march on and attack the enemy 
appeared rash, and to attempt a successful retreat, wearied 
and broken down as the horses were, seemed almost im- 
possible. Colonel Shelby and his associates instantly con- 
cluded, that they had no alternative — fight they must. 
Securing their horses in their rear, they resolved to impro- 
vise a breast-work of logs and brush, and make the best 
defense possible. Their lines were formed across the road, 
at least three hundred yards in length, along the ridge, in 
a semi-circle, and both protected and concealed by a wood. 
Old logs, fallen trees and brush were hurried into place, so 


that in thirty minutes they had a very respectable protection, 
breast-high. Shelby occupied the right — Clarke the left; 
and Williams in the center, though with no special com- 
mand, for the whole force formed one extended line. A 
party of some twenty horsemen were placed on each flank, 
shielded, as much as possible, from the enemy's observa- 
tion — Josiah Culbertson having the command of that on 
Shelby's right ; and Colonel Clarke had a reserve of forty 
men within calling distance. 

Captain Shadrach Inman, who had figured prominently 
in battling the British and Tories in Georgia, was sent for- 
ward, with about twenty-five mounted men, with orders to 
fire upon, and provoke the enemy to cross the ford, and 
skirmish with them, at his discretion ; and retire, drawing 
the British into the net which Shelby and Clarke had so 
adroitly prepared for them . This stratagem , which was the 
suggestion of the Captain himself, worked admirably, for 
the British infantry seemed elated with their success in 
driving Inman at the point of the bayonet ; but the Whig 
Captain kept up a show of fighting and retreating. While 
the enemy were yet two hundred yards distant from the 
American breast-works, they hastily formed into line of 
battle ; and as they advanced fifty yards nearer, they opened 
a heavy fire, pretty generally over-shooting their antago- 
nists. When trees were convenient, the frontiermen made 
use of them, while others were shielded behind their rudety 
constructed barrier, and, to some extent, availed themselves 
also of a fence extending along the road. The Americans 
had been cautioned to reserve their fire ' ' till they could see 
the whites of the Tories' eyes ;" or, as another has it, "till 
they could distinguish the buttons on their clothes" — nor 
even then to discharge their rifles, until orders were given, 
when each man was "to take his object sure." These 
orders were strictly obeyed. 

The British center, on whom Inman made his feigned 
attacks, seeing him retire in apparent confusion, pressed 


forward, under beat of drum and bugle charge, in pursuit, 
but in considerable disorder, shouting: " Huzza for King 
George ! "' On approaching within seventy yards of the 
American lines, they were unexpectedly met with a deadly 
fire, from which they at first recoiled. But their superi- 
ority in numbers enabled them to continue their attack, 
notwithstanding the advantage which the breast-work 
gave the Americans. A strong force, composed of the 
Provincials, led on by Innes and Fraser, forming the 
enemy's left wing, drove, at the point of the bciyonet, 
the right wing under Shelby from their breast-work. 
It was a desperate struggle — Shelby's men contending 
against large odds, and the right flank of his right wing 
gradually giving away, whilst his left flank maintained its 
connection with the centre at the breast-work. The left 
wing, opposed by the Tories, retained its position ; and, see- 
ing Shelby in need of succor, Clarke sent his small reserve 
to his aid, which proved a most timely relief. At this criti- 
cal moment, as Innes was forcing Shelby's right flank, the 
British leader was badly disabled, fell from his charger, and 
was carried back — shot, it was reported, by one of the 
Watauga volunteers, William Smith, who exultingly "ex- 
claimed, "I've killed their commander," when Shelby 
rallied his men, who raised a regular frontier Indian yell, 
and rushed furiously upon the enemy, who were gradually 
forced back before the exasperated riflemen. Culbertson's 
flanking party acted a conspicuous part on this occasion. 

It was unfortunate for the enemy, that, in this desperate 
contest, one Captain was killed, and five out of seven of the 
surviving officers of their Pro\incial corps were wounded. 
Besides Innes, shot down by Smith, another Watauga rifle- 
man, Robert Beene, wounded Major Fraser, who was seen 
to reel from his horse. Captain Campbell, together with 
Lieutenants Camp and William Chew, were also among 
the wounded.* 

•:' Colonel Innes was a Scotchman. He was probably a/w/^^*? of his countryman, Alex- 
ander Cameron, the British Indian Agent among the Cherokees ; and was, it would appear, 


These heav}' losses had a very disheartening effect upon 
the British troops. And the Tories, faihng to make any 
impression on Clarke's line, and having already lost several 
of their officers, and many of their men, began to show signs 
of wavering, when Captain Hawsey, a noted leader among 
them, who was striving to re-animate the Loyalists, and 
reti"ieve the fortunes of the day, was shot down. In the 
midst of the confusion that followed, Clarke and his brave 
men, following Shelby's example, pushed forth from their 
barrier, yelling, shooting and slashing on every hand. It 
was in the mcISe, when the British defeat was too apparent, 
that the Tory Colonel Clary had the opposite bits of his 
horse's bridle seized at the same moment by two stalwart 
Whigs. He had, however, the ingenuity and presence of 
mind to extricate himself from his perilous situation by 
exclaiming — " D — n you, don't you know 3'our own 
officers ! " He was instantly released, and fled at full speed.* 
The British and Tories were now in full retreat, closely 
followed by the intrepid mountaineers. It was in this excit- 
ing pursuit that the courageous Captain Inman was killed, 
while pressing the enemj-, and fighting them hand-to- 
hand. He received seven shots from the Tories, one, 
a musket ball, piercing his forehead. He fell near the base 
of a Spanish oak that stood where the modern road leaves 
the old mill road, and where his grave was still pointed 

an assistant commissary at the Long Island of Holston, at one time; and in the fall of 
^-jjj^ returned to the Cherokee nation, taking up his quarters with Cameron. He was 
commissioned Colonel of the South Carolina Royalists, January 20, 1780; in 1782, he was 
Inspector General of the Loyalist forces. Colonel Hanger, in his Kcjily to Mackenzie's 
Strictures states that Innes was living retired in 17S9, probably on half-pay. 

Of Major Fraser, who was wounded in this engagement, we have no further knowl- 
edge. Captain Campbell was of Trenton, New Jersey, settled in New Brunswick, after 
peace was declared, on half-pay, dying in Maugersville in that Colony in 1822, and was 
buried at Frederickton. Lieutenant Chew retired at the close of the war, on half-pay, to 
New Brunswick, dying at Frederickton, in 1812, aged sixty-four. Of Lieutenant Camp s 
career, before or after the affair at Musgrove's Mill, we have no information. 

* Colonel Clarey was a prominent citizen of Ninety Six District; and surviving the 
war, remained in the country. Notwithstanding his great error in siding with the Tories, 
he was greatly beloved, .nnd. in after life, performed all the duties of a good citizen, until 
peacefully gathered to his fathers. He had, a few years since, a grandson. Colonel Clary, 
living in Edgefield County, and other decendants. 



out but a few years since. Great credit is justly due to 
Captain Inman for the successful manner in which he 
brought on the action, and the aid he rendered in con- 
ducting it to a triumphant issue. 

The yells and screeches 
of the retreating British and 
Tories as they ran through 
the woods, and over the hills 
to the river — loudty inter- 
mingled with the shouts of 
their pursuers, together with 
the groans of the dying and 
wounded, were terrific and 
heart-rending in the ex- 
treme. The smoke, as well 
as the din and confusion, 


;noree piver 

A. Graves. B, Where Captain Inman wa3 ^.^gg J^Jg]^ aboVC the CXCitiug 

Plat of Region near Musgrove's Mill. 
L. Graves. B. Where Captain Inman 
killed, at the junction of the old and new roa 

scene. The Tories ceased to make any show of defense 
when half way from the breast-works to the ford. The 
retreat then became a perfect rout ; and now, with reck- 
less speed, they hastened to the river, through which they 
rushed with the wildest fury,J:iotly pursued by the victorious 
Americans with sword and rifle, killing, wounding or cap- 
turing all who came in their way. 

Many of the British and Tories were shot down as they 
were hastening, pell-mell, across the Enoree at the rocky 
ford. After they were fairly over, one, not yet too weary 
to evince his bravado, and attract attention for the moment, 
turned up his buttock in derision, at the Americans ; when 
one of the Whig officers, probably Brandon or Steen, said 
to Golding Tinsley : * "Can't you turn that insolent brag- 

* This old soldier, who did much good service in the up-country of South Carolina 
during the Revolution, was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, in or about 1756, as stated in 
his pension papers, and settled in South Carolina about T771. He early served in the 
Rangers. He participated in the battle of Stono, the seige of Savannah, and took an active 
part in the actions at Musgrove's Mill. King's Mountain, and Blacltstocks, He had two 
brothers killed by the Tories in the Fair Forest region during the war. He lived to enjoy 
a pension, dying in Spartanburg County, May nth, 1851, aged about ninety-five years. 


gart over?" "I can tr};-," responded Tinsley, who was 
known to possess a good rifle, when, suiting the action to 
the word, he took prompt aim, and fired — and sure enough, 
turned him over, when some of his comrades picked the 
fellow up, and carried him off". Another instance of sharp- 
shooting is mentioned : One of the enemy, who had re- 
crossed the ford, betook himself to a convenient tree, which, 
however, did not fully protect his person, for Thomas 
Gillespie, one of the Watauga riflemen, brought his rifle to 
bear on the Tory's partially exposed body, and the next 
moment he bit the dust. 

It is related, that while the firing was yet kept up, on 
the north side of the Enoree, an intrepid frontierman. Cap- 
tain Sam Moore, led a small party of ten or twelve men 
up the river, and crossing the stream at Head's Ford, 
rushed down upon a portion of the enemy with such im- 
petuosity and audacity as to impress them with the belief 
that they were but the vanguai'd of a much larger force, 
when they incontinently fled, and Moore rejoined his 
victorious friends over the river. 

Some interesting incidents connected with, and follow- 
ing the battle, deserve a place in this connection. So many 
of the British and Tory reserve as could, mounted to the 
top of Musgrove's house, that they might witness the con- 
test, not doubting for a moment that King George's men 
could and would bear down all before them. They saw the 
heroic Inman deliver his successive fires and retreat, fol- 
lowed closely by Innes' pursuers ; and supposed this little 
band constituted the whole of the Rebel party. To these 
house-top observers, the bold invaders were beaten back — 
routed ; when they threw up their hats, indulging in shouts 
that made the old hill in the rear of Musgrove's resound 
again, with echoes and re-echoes, in commemoration of 
their imaginary victory. At length, reaching the concealed 
Whigs, a tremendous fire burst upon their pursuers, which 
caused a deathly paleness on the countenance of some fifty 


of the reserve party, who were it was said, paroled British 
prisoners, doing dutj^ contrarj^ to the laws of war — they, 
especiall}', dreading the consequences of a possible capture 
at the hands of the Americans. Their shoutings ceased — 
the)- peered anxiouslj', with bated breath, towards the con- 
tending parties. At length they raised the cry of despair: 
"We are beaten — our men are retreating;" and long 
before the Tories had re-crossed the river, these demoral- 
ized Britons had seized their knap-sacks, and were scam- 
pering oft' towards Ninety Six at their liveliest speed. 

The large patrolling party which had been down the 
river near Jones' Ford, heard the firing, and came dashing 
back at full speed ; and while descending the steep hill, 
east of the old Musgrove domicile, their bright uniforms 
and flashing blades and scabbards reflected the rays of the 
morning sun just rising in its splendor. They reined up 
their panting steeds before Musgrove's, the commanding 
officer eagerlj' inquiring what was the matter. A hurried 
account of the battle was given, which had terminated so 
disastrously some thirty minutes before ; when, rising in his 
stirrups, and uttering deep and loud imprecations, the cav- 
alry commander ordered his men to cross the river. They 
dashed at full speed over the rocky ford, splashing the 
water, which, with the resplendent sun-rays, produced 
miniature rainbows around the horses. They were too late, 
for the victorious Americans had retired with their prison- 
ers, leaving the British troopers the melancholy duty of 
conveying their wounded fellows to the hospital at Mus- 

For many miles around, every woman and child of the 
surrounding country, who were able to leave their homes, 
visited the battle-ground — some for plunder, some from 
curiosity, and others for a different purpose. It was chiefly 
a Tory region, the few Whigs having retired from motives 
of personal safety, joining Sumter and other popular lead- 
ers. The most of these visitors were of Loyalist families ; 


and it was interesting to witness them, as well as the few 
Whig ladies present, turning over the bodies of the slain, 
earnestly examining their faces, to see if they could recog- 
nize a father, husband, son, or brother. Not a few went 
away with saddened hearts, and eyes bedewed with tears. 

Sixteen Tories were said to have been buried in one 
grave, near the mouth of Cedar Shoal creek — the particular 
spot long since defaced and forgotten. Several were in- 
terred between the battle-ground and ford, but a stone's 
throw below wh-ere George Gordon resided some thirtj^ years 
since, on the west side of the old road ; while others were 
buried in the yard of the late Captain Philemon Waters, 
midway between the ford and battle-field, opposite the dog- 
wood spring, and others yet were buried in a grave-yard, 
just below Musgrove's house. A burial spot is still pointed 
out on the battle-ridge, just east of the old road. 

It was a complete rout on the part of the British and 
Tories. They seem to have apprehended, that the Whig 
forces, in the flush of victory, might push on to Ninety Six, 
then believed to be in a weak and defenceless condition. 
The Tory leader. Fanning, states, that after the battle, the 
British retreated a mile and a quarter, where they encamped 
for the i-emainder of the day ; and, in the night, marched 
oif towards Ninety Six, under the command of Captain 
De Peyster. This probably refers to only a part of the 
enemy ; for the larger portion must have remained, if for 
nothing else, at least to take care of their wounded. 
Another British writer, Mackenzie, represents, that in the 
retreat from the battle-ground, they were conducted by 
Captain Kerr to the southern bank of the Enoree, where 
they remained till reinforced by Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger 
from Ninety Six. " Captain Kerr," says the Georgia his- 
torian, McCall, "finding that resistance would be in vain, 
and without hope of success, ordered a retreat, which was 
effected in close order for four miles, resorting to the bayo- 
net for defence in flank and rear. The pursuit was con- 


tinued by the victors, until the enemy took refuge in Mus- 
grove's Mill," which was on the south side of the Enoree, in 
the north-east corner of the present county of Laurens, 
noted on Mills' Atlas oj South Carolina as Gordon's Mill. 

Colonel Williams' official account represents that the 
main fight — the one at the breast-work — lasted only fifteen 
minutes, when the enemy were obliged to retreat, and were 
pursued two miles ; and that Colonel Innes was reported to 
be wounded by two balls — one in the neck and the other 
breaking the thigh — and that three Tory Captains were 
slain. " The enemy declared they suffered exceedingly in 
the action with Colonel Williams ; that Captain Campbell, 
an officer in high repute, of the regulars, among others, 
was killed,"* and Governor Rutledge confirms the fact that 
" one British Captain " was among the slain. 

Shelby states, that the action continued an hour before 
the enemy were repulsed in front of the breast-work ; while 
McCall asserts, that it was "but a few minutes after the 
contest began, when so many of the Provincial officers were 
either killed or wounded, and "the men tumbled down in 
heaps, without the power of resistance,'' when the survivors 
retreated under Captain Kerr.f Probabty Colonel Williams' 
recollection of the length of the battle before the retreat, 
written within a few days thereafter, is approximately cor- 
rect ; and possibly well nigh an hour may have been con- 
sumed by the time the enemy were driven across the ford, and 
took refuge in the mill. "This action," says Colonel Hill's 
manuscript, " was one of the hardest ever fought in the 
country with small arms alone ; the smoke was so thick as 

* Statement in Virginia Gazette, September 27th, 1780, of William AUraan, of Colonel 
Stiibblefield's regiment of Virginia militia, who was captured at Gates' defeat, and subse- 
quently escaped from Camden. 

t Captain James Kerr was probably a resident of Long Island or Connecticut, from 
whose refugees most of the Queen's Rangers were raised, in which corps he was a Captain. 
After the war, he retired on half-pay, first to New Brunswick, and then to King's county, 
Nova Scotia, where he was made Colonel of the militia. He died at Amherst, in that 
Province, in 1830, at the age of seventy-six, leaving a widow, who survived him ten years, 
dying at seventy-four. Three sons and a daughter preceded him to the grave, but twelve 
children survived him. 


to hide a man at the distance of twenty rods." Shelby 
described this battle as "the hardest and best fought action 
he ever was in " — attributing this valor and persistency to 
"the great number of officers who were with him as volun- 

It must be confessed, that the Provincials and Tories, 
before their final rout, fought bravely. Their dragoons, 
but lately raised, and indifferently disciplined, behaved with 
much gallantry, fighting on the left with Innes. They all 
exhibited, more or less, the training they had received 
under that superior master, Ferguson. The British loss, in 
this affair, was sixty-three killed, about ninety wounded, 
and seventy prisoners — a total of not far from two hundred 
and twenty-three, out of four or five hundred, which is an 
unusually large proportion for the number engaged in the 
action. The American loss was only four killed and eight 
or nine wounded. This disparity in killed and wounded, 
resulted largely from over-shooting* on the part of the 
enemy, and the decided advantage which the trees and 
breast- works afforded the Whigs for their protection. The 
skill of the frontiermen in the use of their rifles was never 
better displayed nor more effective ; while, in the retreat, 
the loss fell almost exclusively on the panic-stricken British 
and Tories. 

Anxious to improve the advantage they had so signally 
gained, Shelby and his heroic compeers at once resolved to 
pursue the demoralized Tories, and make a dash for Ninety 
Six, which they learned was in a weak condition ; and 

* Richard Thompson, of Fair Forest, when a boy of some twelve or fourteen years, 
while on his way with his mother to visit his father, then imprisoned at Ninety Six, passed 
over the battle-ground at Musgrove's a few days after its occurrence, and observed the 
bullet marks on the trees— those of the British and Tories generally indicating an aim above 
the heads of their antagonists, while those of the Whigs were from three to five feet above 
the ground. He learned from his father and other prisoners at Ninety Six. that the fugi- 
tives reported the Whig strength in that action as five thousand ; and such was the con- 
sternation of the garrison of Ninety Six on receipt of the news of the battle, that had the 
victorious Whigs showed themselves there, it would have been difficult for Colonel Cruger 
and his officers to have prevented o general stampede.— Saye's MSS., and Memoir of 


being only some twenty-five miles distant, they could easily 
reach there before night. Returning to their horses, and 
mounting them, while Shelby was consulting Colonel 
Clarke, Francis Jones, an express from Colonel McDowell, 
rode up, in great haste, with a letter in his hand from Gen- 
eral Caswell, who had, on the sixteenth, shared in General 
Gates' total defeat near Camden, apprising McDowell of 
the great disaster, and advising him and all officers com- 
manding detachments to get out of the way, or they would 
be cut off; McDowell sending word that he would at once 
move towards Gilbert Town. General Caswell's hand- 
writing was fortunately familiar to Colonel Shelby, so he 
knew it was no Tory trick attempted to be played off upon 
them. He and his associates instantly saw the difficulty of 
their situation ; they could not retire to McDowell's camp, 
for his force was no longer there — Gates' army was killed, 
captured and scattered — and Sumter's, too, was soon destined 
to meet the same fate ; in their rear was Cruger, with what- 
ever of Innes' and Eraser's detachments remained, with 
Ferguson's strong force on their flank. There was no 
choice — further conquests were out of the question. So 
Ninety Six was left unvisited by the mountaineers — doubt- 
less for them, a fortunate circumstance, as they were with- 
out cannon, and Colonel Cruger, who commanded there, 
was no Patrick Moore, as his brave defence of that garri- 
son against General Greene and his thousands, the following 
year, sufficiently attested. It was, therefore, determined in 
a hasty council on horseback, that they would take a back- 
woods route, to avoid and escape Ferguson, and join Colo- 
nel McDowell on his retreat towards Gilbert Town. 

Hurriedly gathering the prisoners together, and dis- 
tributing one to every three of the Americans, who conveyed 
them alternately on horseback, requiring each captive to 
carry his gun, divested of its flint, the whole cavalcade 
were ready in a few minutes to beat a retreat, as they knew 
full well that Ferguson would be speedily apprised of their 


success, and make a strenuous effort, as he did at Wofford's 
Iron Works, to regain the prisoners. Here an amusing 
incident occurred. Riding along the ranks, viewing the 
prisoners. Colonel WilHams recognized among them an old 
acquaintance in the person of Saul Hinson, very diminutive 
in size, who had the previous year served under his com- 
mand at the battle of Stono, when the Colonel pleasantl}^ 
exclaimed: "Ah! my little Sauly, have we caught you?" 
"Yes, Colonel," replied the little man, " and no d — d great 
catch either ! " Saul's repartee only caused a laugh, and 
neither that nor his false position subjected him to any thing 
beyond the common restraint of a prisoner. 

Some of the few wounded, who were not able to ride, 
were necessarily left ; and, it is pleasant to add, they were 
humanely cared for by the British, and especially by the 
Musgrove family. Among them was one Miller, shot 
through the body, whose injuries were believed to be mortal . 
A silk handkerchief was drawn through the wound to cleanse 
it. His parents, from the lower part of the present county 
of Laurens, obtained the services of an old physician. Dr. 
Ross, to attend to their wounded son, though it is believed 
the British surgeons were not wanting in their professional 
attentions. He at length recovered. 

The Whig troopers, encumbered with their prisoners, 
now hurried rapidly away in a north-westerly direction, 
instead of a north-easterly one towards their old encamp- 
ment. The}' passed over a rough, broken country, crossing 
the forks of Tj^ger, leaving Ferguson on the right, and 
heading their course towards their own friendly mountains. 
As they expected, they were rapidly pursued by a strong 
detachment of Ferguson's men.* Wearied as the mountain- 
eers and their horses were, with scarcely any refreshment 
for either, yet Shelby's indomitable energy permitted them 

*This detachment could not have been led by Captain De Peyster, as supposed by 
Colonel Shelby, for that officer, as the Tory annalist. Fanning, asserts, accompanied him 
from Musgrove's to Ninety Six the night after the battle, doubtless to notify Cruger of the 
disaster, and obtain reinforcements. 


no rest while danger lurked in the way. Once or twice 
only they tarried a brief period to feed their faithful 
horses ; relying, for their own sustenance, on peaches and 
green corn — the latter pulled from the stalks, and eaten in 
its raw slate as they took their turn on horse-back, or trotted 
on foot along; the trail, and which, in their hungry condi- 
tion, they pronounced delicious. They were enabled, now 
and then, to snatch a refreshing draught from the rocky 
streams which they forded. 

Late in the evening of the eighteenth, Ferguson's party 
reached the spot where the Whigs had, less than thirty min- 
utes before, fed their weary horses ; but not knowing how 
long they had been gone, and their own detachment being 
exhausted, they relinquished further pursuit. Not aware of 
this, the Americans kept on their tedious retreat all night, 
and the following day, passing the North Tyger, and into 
the confines of North Carolina — sixty miles from the battle- 
field, and one hundred from Smith's Ford, from which they 
had started, without making a stop, save long enough to 
defeat the enemy at Musgrove's. It was a remarkable 
instance of unflagging endurance, in the heat of a south- 
ern summer, and encumbered, as they were, with seventy 
prisoners. No wonder, that after forty-eight hoiirs of such 
excessive fatigue, nearly all the officers and soldiers became 
so exhausted, that their faces and eyes were swollen and 
bloated to that degree that they were scarcely able to see. 

Reaching the mountain region in safety, they met Colo- 
nel McDowell's party, considerably diminished in numbers, 
as we may well suppose. Colonel Shelby, with the appro- 
bation of Major Robertson, now proposed that an army of 
volunteers be raised on both sides of the mountains, in suffi- 
cient numbers, to cope with Ferguson. All of the officers, 
and some of the privates, were consulted, and all heartily 
united in the propriety and feasibility of the undertaking. 
It was agreed that the Musgrove prisoners should be sent 
to a place of security ; that the over-mountain men should 


return home to recruit and strengthen their numbers ; while 
Colonel McDowell should send an express to Colonels 
Cleveland and Herndon, of Wilkes, and Major Winston, of 
Surry, inviting and urging them to raise volunteers, and 
join in the enterprise ; and that Colonel McDowell should, 
furthermore, devise the best means to preserve the beef 
stock of the Whigs of the Upper Catawba valleys and 
coves, which would undoubtedly be an early object of Fer- 
guson's attention ; and McDowell was, moreover, to obtain 
information of the enemy's movements, and keep the over- 
mountain men constantly apprised of them.* 

As the term of service of their men having expired. 
Colonel Shelby and Major Robertson, with their Holston 
and Watauga volunteers, parted company with Colonel 
Clarke, leaving the prisoners in his charge, and took the 
trail which led to their homes over the Alleghanies. Colo- 
nels McDowell and Hampton, with their Burke and Ruth- 
erford followers, now less than two hundred in number, 
remained in the Gilbert Town region till forced back by the 
arrival of Ferguson shortly after. Colonel Clarke, after 
continuing some distance on his route, concluded to take 
the mountain trails and return to Georgia, transferring the 
prisoners to Colonel Williams, who, with Captain Ham- 
mond, conducted them safely to Hillsboro. There, meeting 
Governor Rutledge, of South Carolina, who supposing 
Williams had the chief command of the expedition, as his 
report was so worded as to convey that idea, conferred on 
him as a reward for the gallant achievement, the commis- 
sion of a Brigadier-General in the South Carolina militia 
service, and, at the same time, promoted Captain Ham- 
mond to the rank of a Major. But Shelby, Clarke, Bran- 
don, Steen, McCall, McDowell, and Mcjunkin, who battled 
so manfully at Musgrove's, were kept in the back-ground, 
receiving no merited honors for their services and their suf- 

*MS. Statements of Major Joseph McDowell, and Captain David Vance, preserved by 
the late Robert Henry, of Buncombe Co., N. C, and both participants in this expedition. 


ferings ; yet they, nevertheless, continued faithfully to serve 
their country without a murmur. 

Lord Cornwallis, on the twenty-ninth of August, wrote 
to Sir Henry Clinton : ' ' Ferguson is to move into Tryon 
county with some militia, whom he says he is sure he can 
depend upon for doing their duty, and fighting well ; but I 
am sorry to say, that h's own experience, as well as that of 
every other officer, is totally against him."* This is a tacit 
acknowledgment, that Ferguson's detachments were deci- 
dedly worsted in the several affairs at Cedar Spring, with 
Colonel Jones beyond the head-waters of Saluda, at Earle's 
Ford, near Wofford's Iron Works, and at Musgrove's. So 
good a judge of military matters as Lord Cornwallis would 
not have made such a report, had not the disastrous results 
extorted the reluctant confession. 

Some comparison of the principal authorities consulted, 
which appear more or less contradictory in their character, 
ma}' not inappropriately be made in concluding this chap- 
ter. Dawson, vaguely referring to the Shelby statements, 
says they "differ so much from the contemporary reports, 
that I have not noticed them." Colonel Shelby was in 
every sense a real hero in war, and the details he furnishes 
are no doubt reliable. But in after life, he appears, perhaps 
imperceptibly, little b}' little, to have magnified the num- 
bers, losses and prisoners in some of the contests in which 
he was engaged — notably so of the Musgrove affair. The 
venerable historian of Tennessee, Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, 
states in a letter before the writer, that he closely followed 
a manuscript narrative of Governor Shelby in what he 
records of the battle at Musgrove's — the same that Hay- 
wood had used before him ; in which the British force is 
given as four or five hundred, reinforced by six hundred 
under Colonel Innes from Ninety Six, not, however, stating 
the strength of the Whigs ; that more than two hundred 
prisoners were taken, with a loss on the part of the victors of 
only six or seven killed. In his statement to Hardin, Colonel 

* Correspondence of Cornwallis, i, 58-59. 


Shelby puts both the British and American strength at about 
seven hundred — the former reinforced by six or seven hun- 
dred more'; that over two hundred of the enemy were killed, 
and two hundred made prisoners, with a Whig loss of Cap- 
tain Inman and thirty others. Colonel Todd, in his sketch 
of his father-in-law. Governor Shelby, gives the enemy's 
force at Musgrove's at five or six hundred, reinforced hy 
six hundred under Innes ; but discards Shelby's exaggerated 
account of losses and prisoners, adopting McCall's instead. 
Colonel Williams' report, on the other hand, gives the 
American force at two hundred, and the British originally 
the same, reinforced by three hundred, killing sixty of the 
enemy, and taking seventy prisoners, while the Americans 
sustained a loss of only four killed, and seven or eight 
wounded. Governor Abner Nash, of North Carolina, 
writing September tenth, 1780, says: "Colonel Williams, 
of South Carolina, two days after this (Gates') defeat, with 
two hundred men, engaged four hundred of the British 
cavalry, in a fair open field fight, and completely defeated 
and routed them, killing sixty-three on the spot, and taking 
seventy-odd prisoners, mostly British." Orondates Davis, 
a prominent public character, writing from Halifax, North 
Carolina, September twenty-seventh, 1780, states: "Colo- 
nel Williams, of South Carolina, three [two] days after 
Gates' defeat, fell in with a party of the enemy near Ninety 
Six, and gave them a complete drubbing, killing seventy 
on the spot, and taking between sixty and seventy prison- 
ers, mostly British, with the loss of four men only." These 
two statements, written, doubtless, on Williams' inform- 
ation, appear in the North Carolina University Magazine 
for March, 1855. . McCall speaks of the British force as 
three hundred and fifty, and the Americans about equal, 
stating the British loss at sixty-three killed, and one hun- 
dred and sixty wounded and taken, the Americans losing 
only four killed and nine wounded ; while Mills, who does 
not report the numbers engaged, gives the British loss at 


eighty-six killed, and seventy-six taken. Major James 
Sevier stated the Whig force at two hundi-ed and fifty, as 
he learned it from his neighbors who participated in the 
action immediately after their return home ; and Major 
Mcjunkin placed the British strength at three hundred, and 
the Americans at half the number. 

Shelby's accounts, and those who follow them, give the 
date of the action as August nineteenth ; but the eighteenth 
has the weight of authority to sustain it — Williams' report, 
Governor Nash's letter, September tenth, 1780, Ramsay's 
Revolution in South Carolina, 1785, Moultrie, Gordon, 
McCall, Mills, Lossing, O'Neall, and Dawson. 

Note — Authorities for the Musgrove's Mill expedition : Colonel Williams' report 
which General Gates, September 5, 1780, forwarded to the President of Congress, pub- 
lished in Pennsylvania Packet, September 23, Massachusetts Spy, October 12, London 
Chronicle, December 21, 1780, Scots' Magazine^ December, 1780; Almon's Reinevibrancer. 
xi, 87, and the substance, evidently communicated by Governor Rutledge, in Virginia 
Gazette, September 13, 1780. Ramsay's Revolution, ii, 137; Moultrie's Mevioii'S, \\, 220; 
Mackenzie's Strictures, 25-26; Y^Lnmngs 'Narrative, 12-13; Gordon's History, iii, 449; 
McCall's Georgia, ii, 315-17. Shelby's accounts in Haywood's Tennessee, 65-67; Ramsey's 
Tenjiessee. 217-19; American Whig Review, December, 1848; Todd's memoir of Shelby 
in National Portrait Gallery, and in IVesiern Monthly Magazine, August 1836 ; Breazeale's 
Li/e as it is, 51-52 ; Wheeler's North Carolina, ii, 57-58, ico; Hunter's Sketches 0/ Western 
North Carolina, 337-39. Mills' Statistics, 255-56, 764; O'Neall's History Newhe7~ry, 71, 265, 
312-13; Lossing's Field Book, ii, 444-45; Dawson's Battles, i, 620-22; Howe's History 
Presbyterian Church of South Carolina, 526. MS. papers of Robert Henry. Also Saye's 
Memoir of Mcjiinkin, and Saye MSS ; MSS. of Dr. John H. Logan, furnishing many 
traditions from the Musgrove family; Colonel William Hill's MS. Narrative of the Mus- 
grove affair, derived from "an officer of high standing" who participated in the engage- 
ment — the date and details going to show that Colonel Shelby was his authority; they 
had met on the King's Mountain campaign. Pension statement of Captain Joseph 
Hughes. MS. notes of conversations with Major James Sevier, son of Colonel John Sevier; 
also with Major Thomos H. Shelby, son of Colonel Isaac Shelby, and Colonel George 
Wilson, of Tennessee. 

The pretended narrative of Colonel Samuel Hammond, in Johnson's Traditions, has 
not been relied on. It, for instance, refers to the express, who brought intelligence of 
Gates' defeat, also bringing news of Sumter's disaster at Fishing Creek, when, in fact, it 
did not occur, until several hours later of the same day, and in a distant county. Colonel 
Hammond, of course, never wrote anything of the kind. 



1780 — Summer and Autumn. 

Incidents of the Up-country. — Major Edward Musgrove. — Paddy Carr 
and Beaks Musgrove. — The Story of Mary Musgrove. — Samuel 
Clowneys Adventure. — William Kennedy's Forays Against the 
Tories. — Joseph Hughes' Escape. — William Sharp Bagging a 
British and Tory Party. — Tories' Attack on Woods, and how dearly 
he sold his life. — Plundering Sam. Brown. 

Several interesting incidents transpired during the sum- 
mer and early autumn of 1780, in the region of the present 
counties of Laurens, Spartanburg, and Union, while Colo- 
nel Ferguson yet held sway in that quarter. The more 
striking of them deserve to be preserved in the history of 
the times, as exhibiting something of the rancor and bitter- 
ness engendered by civil warfare. 

Edward Musgrove, whose name has been perpetuated 
by the battle just narrated, fought near his residence, was a 
native of England, and one of the earliest settlers of the 
upper country of South Carolina. He had received a good 
education, and was bred to the law. Possessing fine abili- 
ties, large hospitality and benevolence, he was a practical 
surveyor, giving legal advice, and drawing business papers 
for all who needed them, for many miles around. He was 
very popular, and exceedingly useful, in all the region, of 
which his noted mill on the Enoree was the center. 

Major Musgrove, for he bore that title, was a man a 
little above medium height, of slender form, prematurely 
gray, and possessed much firmness and decision of charac- 
ter. He had passed the period of active life when the 
Revolutionary war commenced, and was then living with 
his third wife — too old to take any part in the bloody strife ; 


but with trembling lips, he plead each night for a speedy 
return of peace and good will among men. He lived to 
see his prayers answered, dying in 1792, in the seventj''- 
sixth year of his age, and was buried in the little grave- 
yard, just behind the site of his house, near the old mill. 

Beaks Musgrove was a son of the Major's by his first 
wife. Partaking of the spirit of the times, and inspired by 
such British leaders as the Cunninghams and Colonel Fer- 
guson, he was induced to join the King's standard. Pat- 
. rick Carr, better known as Paddy Carr, was one of the 
fearless Captains who served under Colonel Clarke, of 
Georgia. He had been an Indian trader on the frontiers of 
that Province, and was, on occasion, quite as reckless and 
brutal as the worst specimens among the Red Men of the 
forest. Hunting for Beaks Musgrove, he suddenly darted 
into Major Musgrove's, at a moment when Beaks had come 
in to change his clothing, and get some refreshments, and 
had leaned his sword against the door-post, while his pretty 
sister, Mary, was engaged in preparing him a meal. Carr 
had dodged in so quietly and unexpectedly, that Beaks was 
taken entirely by surprise, and without a moment's notice 
to enable him to attempt his escape. 

" Are 3-ou Beaks Musgrove? " inquired Carr. 

" I am, sir," was the frank and manly reply. 

"You are the man, sir, I have long been seeking," was 
the stern response of the Whig Captain.. 

Mary Musgrove, seeing the drawn sword of her brother 
in Carr's possession, earnestly inquired: "Are you Paddy 
Carr? " 

" I am," he replied. 

" I am Mary Musgrove, Mr. Carr, and 3rou must not 
kill my brother, " at the same time imploringly throwing 
herself between them. 

Carr was evidently touched by the plea of artless beauty, 
and struck with young Musgrove's manliness and fine sol- 
dierly appearance, and said : " Musgrove, you look like a 
man who would fight." 


"Yes," responded Musgrove, "there are circumstances 
under which I would do my best." 

" Had I come upon j^ou alone," said Carr, "in possess- 
ion of your arms, would you have fought me? " 

'• Yes — sword in hand," rejoined Musgrove. 

Carr seemed pleased with his new acquaintance, who 
was now so completely in his power, and boldly proposed 
to him to become a member of his scout at once, and swear 
never again to bear arms against the Americans. By this 
time, Carr's men, who had been stationed in the cedar 
grove some distance from the house, came up, to observe 
what was transpiring, and, if need be, to render aid to their 

Mary Musgrove, seeing her brother disposed to accede 
to Carr's proposition, with a view, probably, of saving his 
life, still had her fears awakened for his safety, and boldly 
challenged the Captain's motives. "Captain Carr," she 
asked, " I hope you do not intend to persuade my brother 
to leave me, and then, when the presence of his sister is no 
longer a restraint, butcher him in cold blood — pledge me, 
sir, that such is not your purpose." 

"I'll swear it," replied Carr, solemnly. Beaks Mus- 
grove joined his part}?^, but at heart he was a Tory still. 
He, however, continued some time with Carr, constantly 
gaining upon that bold leader's confidence ; but there is no 
record or tradition tending to show how long the native 
baseness of his heart permitted him to sustain his new char- 
acter. There is no evidence that he ever after bore arms 
against his country — perhaps he feared the terrible retribu- 
tion Carr would certainly have visited upon him, had 
he falsified the solemn oath he had taken. About the close 
of the war, he quit the country, and never returned. He 
left a son, who became a Baptist preacher, displaying, it is 
said, much of the eccentricity and acuteness of the cele- 
brated Lorenzo Dow. 

By his second m.arriage, to a Miss Fancher, Major Mus- 


grove had two daughters, Mary and Susan, aged respect- 
ively some twenty-five and twenty-three years, at the period 
of the war troubles of 1780-81 ; and both were akin to the 
angels in their unwearied acts of mercy to the wounded and 
the suffering in those trying times. They were young 
women of marked attractions, both of mind and body ; 
Mary, especially, was a young lady of rare beauty of per- 
son, possessing a bright intellect, and much energy of char- 
acter. She was the renowned heroine of Kennedy's popu- 
lar story of " Horse-Shoe Robinson ; " and, in all the up- 
countr}^ of South Carolina, he could not have chosen a more 
beautiful character in real life with which to adorn the 
charming pages of his historical romance. In Marjr Mus- 
grove's case — 

"Beauty unadorned is adorned the most." 

Both of these noble sisters fell earlj^ victims to the con- 
sumption — Mary dying about one 3'ear, and Susan about 
two years, after the war — both unmarried, and both quietly 
repose in the little grave-yard beside their revered parents. 

When Mary Musgrove was about passing away, she 
selected her sister, and three other young ladies of the 
neighborhood, to be her pall-bearers. Her body being very 
light, they bore it to its final resting-place on silk handker- 
chiefs. Just as they were lowering the coffin into the grave, 
a kind-hearted lady present, the wife of a noted Tory, came 
forward to render some little assistance, when a member of 
the family, knowing Mary's devoted Whig principles, 
gentlj' interposed and prevented it. Such was the tender 
respect shown to the memory of the worthy heroine of the 

A remarkable adventure of Samuel Clowney will next 

* Among Dr. Logan's MSS., Is an interesting statement, to which we are indebted for 
these particulars, from the late Captain P. M. Waters, son of Margaret Musgrove, the 
oldest daughter, by his last marriage, of Major Musgrove — a girl of twelve summers at the 
time of the memorable battle near her father's, in 1780. She married Ladon Waters, and 
survived till 1824; and by her retentive memory these traditions, and several of those 
related in the preceding chapter, were preserved. 


demand our attention. He was a native of Ireland, and 
first settled on the Catawba river, in North Carolina, finalty 
locating in South Carolina. He was a most determined 
Whig, and had joined Colonel Thomas at the Cedar Spring, 
early in July. Obtaining with several others a brief leave 
of absence, to visit their friends, and procure a change 
of clothing, they set oft' for the settlement on the waters 
of Fair Forest, known as Ireland or the Irish Settle- 
ment, on account of the large number of settlers from 
the Emerald Isle. On their route, the party left, with a 
Mrs. Foster, some garments to be washed, and appointed a 
particular hour, and an out-of-the-way place, where they 
should meet her, and get them, on their return to camp. 

In accordance with this arrangement, when the partj'^ 
reached Kelso's creek, about five miles from Cedar Spring, 
they diverged from the road through the woods to the ap- 
pointed place, leaving Clowney, and a negro named Paul, 
to take charge of their horses until they should return with 
the washing. Presently five Tories, making their way to a 
Loyalist encampment in that quarter, came to the creek ; 
when Clowney, conceiving himself equal to the occasion, 
and giving the negro subdued directions of the part he was 
to act, yelled out in a commanding tone: "Cock your 
guns, boys, and fire at the word ; " and then advancing to 
the bank of the stream, as the Tories were passing through 
it, demanded who they were? Thej- answered : "Friends 
to the King.'' To their utter astonishment, not dreaming 
of a Whig party in the country, they were peremptorily 
ordered by Clowney to come upon the bank, lay down their 
arms, and surrender, or "every bugger of them would be 
instantly cut to pieces." Being somewhat slow in showing 
signs of yielding, Clowney sternly repeated his demand, 
threatening them, with his well-poised rifle, of the fatal 
consequences of disobedience ; when the terror-stricken 
Tories, believing that a large force was upon them, quietly 
surrendered without uttering a word. 


Paul took charge of their guns, when Clowney, giving 
some directions to his imaginary soldiers to follow in the 
rear, ordered the prisoners "right about wheel," when 
he marched them across the creek, directly before him, 
till he at length reached the rest of his party at Mrs. Foster's 
washing camp. They were then conducted to Colonel 
Thomas' quarters. The prisoners were not a little cha- 
grined, when they learned that their captors consisted of 
only two persons — one of whom was an unarmed negro. 
After arriving safely at Cedar Spring, his Colonel, when 
told that Clowney and the negro alone had captured the 
whole party, seemed at first a little incredulous that they 
could accomplish such a feat. 

"Why, Padd}'," said the Colonel, "how did you take 
all these men? " 

"May it plase yer honor," he replied, exultingly, "by 
me faith, I surj-oimded them ! " 

Clowney was a real hero. This achievement of his at 
Kelso's creek is well attested by many who knew him. 
One of his acquaintances, in his terse way, described him 
as "a little dry Irishman ; " and though he belonged to the 
Presbyterian Church, like all of his Celtic race of that da}', 
without being intemperate, he could not refrain from getting 
dry once in a while, and dearly loved "a wee bit of the 
crathure" occasionally. He possessed a remarkable talent 
for sarcasm and invective ; but he was, nevertheless, a most 
kind-hearted, benevolent man, greatly beloved by all who 
knew him. His brogue was quite rich, and this, combined 
with a fund of genial Irish wit, made him a fascinating 
companion. He died September twenty-seventh, 1824, in 
his eighty-second year. His son, William K. Clowney, 
who was a graduate of South Carolina College, and became 
a prominent lawyer, represented his native district four 
years in Congress.* 

*MS. Lojjan papers; MS. notes of conversations with Dr. Alexander Q. Bradley, of 
Alabama, and General James K. Means, a son-in-law of Clowney's, in 1871; Howe's His- 
tory 0/ Preshyterian Church in South Carolina, 534-35: Dr. Moore's Life of Lacey 32, 


Five miles south of Unionville, in the preyent county of 
Union, was Fair Forest Shoal. There Colonel Thomas 
Brandon resided ; but his military position required his 
presence elsewhere much of the time during the active 
period of the Revolution. His place, during his absence, 
was well supplied by a few resolute Whigs, among whom 
were old 'Squire Kennedy, his son William, Joseph Hughes, 
William Sharp, Thomas Young, Joseph Mcjunkin, and 
Christopher Brandon. 

Among these brave and active patriots, William Ken- 
nedy stood conspicuous. He was of French Huguenot 
descent — the race to which Marion belonged. He was tall, 
handsome, and athletic. His perception was quick, his 
sagacity equal to any emergency, and his ability sufficient 
for a great commander. But he persistently refused to 
accept any office, choosing rather to serve as a common 
soldier. He was regarded as the best shot with his rifle of 
any pers9n in all that region. Whether on foot or horse- 
back, at half-speed or a stand-still, he was never known to 
miss his aim. His rifle had a peculiar crack when fired, 
which his acquaintances could recognize ; and when its 
well-known report was heard, it was a common remark — 
" the7-e is another Tory less.''' 

Although he held no commission, yet the men of the 
neighborhood acknowledged him as their leader when dan- 
ger was nigh, and their feet were ever in the stirrup at his 
bidding. His efforts were often called into requisition by 
the plundering excursions of the Tories sent out under the 
auspices of Ferguson, Dunlap, and their subordinate offi 
cers. He and his comrades often saved their settlement from 
being over-run by these scouting parties. The crack' of 
Kennedy's rifle was sure to be heard whenever a Tory was 
found ; and it was the well-known signal for his friends to 
hasten to his assistance. He seemed almost to "snuff" the 
battle from afar ;" and the flush of determination would suf- 
fuse his manly countenance whenever he had reason to 
believe the enemy were near. 


On one occasion, a British and Tory scouting party 
penetrated the settlement, and began their customarj' work 
of phindering the women and children of every thing they 
possessed, whether to eat or to wear. One of Kennedy's 
runners went to the hiding-place of Christopher Brandon 
and two companions — for they were, in the language of the 
times, out-lyers, and could not with safety stay at home for 
fear of being massacred by the Tories — and notified them 
of an enterprise on foot. They mounted their horses, and 
hastened at half-speed to the place of rendezvous. Pursu- 
ing an unfrequented cow-path through a dense forest, they 
stopped a moment at a small branch crossing their trail, to 
permit their jaded horses to quench their thirst, and then 
renew their journey. The crack of a rifle scattered the 
brains of one of Brandon's companions on his clothes and 
in his face, the same ball grazing his cheek, the dead body 
of the victim tumbling into the brook beneath. The two 
survivors put spurs to their horses, when more than a dozen 
rifles were fired at them from an unseen enemy behind the 
trees ; but they fortunately escaped uninjured. The Torjf 
party had heard the galloping of the horses of Brandon and 
his friends, and laid in wait for them. 

Reaching the place of meeting, some fifteen or twenty 
had assembled under their bold leader, Kennedy, and were 
ready for a hot pursuit. They overtook the Tory band a 
few minutes before sunset. They were plundering a house 
in a field a few rods from the public road ; and the Whig 
pursuers had their attention first attracted by the cries of the 
woman and her children. The Tories had a sentinel out- 
side, who fired as the Whigs came near ; and, on the alarm, 
those within instantly dashed out, mounted their horses, and 
fled. The Whigs divided, each pursuing his man at full 
speed. Kennedy directed 3'oung Brandon, who was inex- 
perienced, to keep near him, and only fire when told to do 
so. The leader of the Tory party, whose name was Neal, 
was the one singled out and pursued by Kennedy. He fled 


through an open field, towards the woods, at some distance 
away ; but Kennedy kept the road, running nearly parallel 
with the fugitive, till he reached an open space in the hedge- 
row of bushes that had partially obstructed the view^, when 
he suddenlj' called out whoa! to his horse, who had been 
trained instantlj- to obey ; and, as quick as thought, the 
crack of Kennedy's rifle brought Neal tumbling to the 
ground. He was stone-dead when Kennedy and Brandon 
came up, having been shot through the body in a vital part. 
The distance of Kennedy's fire was one hundred and forty 
yards. More than half of the Tory party was killed. 
"Not one was taken prisoner," as Brandon related the 
adventure in his old age, " for it occurred but seldom — our 
rifles usually saved us that trouble." Re-taking the Tory- 
booty, it was all faithfully restored to the distressed woman 
and children.* 

On the heights at Fair Forest Shoal was an old stockade 
fort or block-house. Many tragic incidents occurred there, 
and in its neighborhood. A Tory, whose name has been 
forgotten, had, with his band, done much mischief in that 
region ; and, among other unpardonable sins, had killed 
one of William Kennedy's dearest friends. The latter 
learned that the culprit was within striking distance, and 
called his friends together, who went in search of him. 
The two parties met some two or three miles from the 
block-house, when a severe contest ensued. The Tories 
were routed ; and the leader, who was the prize Kennedy 
sought, fled. Kennedy, Hughes, Sharp, Mcjunkin and 
others pursued. The chase was one of life or death. The 
Tory approached the bank of Fair Forest at a point, on a 
high bluff, where the stream at low water was perhaps 
twenty or thirty yards over, and quite deep. The fleeing 

*MS. notos of Hon. Daniel Wallace, communicated to William Gilmore Simms, the 
distinguished novelist and historian of South Carolina, and kindly furnished the writer by 
Mr. Simms' daughter, Mrs. Edward Roach, of Charleston. Mr. Wallace was a native of 
the up-country of South Carolina, and represented his district in Congress from 1847 to 
1853. He died a few years since. 


Loyalist, hemmed around by his pm'suers on the bluff, just 
where they aimed to drive him, hesitated not a moment, 
but spurred his horse, and plunged over the bank, and into 
the stream below — a fearful leap. His pursuers followed, 
and at the opposite bank they made him their prisoner. 

Their powder being wet by its contact with the water, 
they resolved to take their captive below to the block-house 
and hang him. When they arrived there, the officer in 
command would not permit him to be disposed of in that 
summary manner, but ordered him to be taken to Colonel 
Brandon's camp, a considerable distance away, to be tried 
by a court martial. Kennedy was placed at the head of the 
guard, but the Tory begged that Kennedy might not be 
permitted to go, as he apprehended he would take occasion 
to kill him on the way. Evidently intending to make an 
effort to escape, he did not wish the presence of so skillful 
a shot as Kennedy. His request, however, was not heeded. 
He took an early occasion to dash off at full speed ; but 
Kennedy's unerring rifle soon stopped his flight, and his 
remains were brought back to the foot of the hill, near the 
block-house, and there buried. The Tory's grave was 
still pointed out within a few years past.* 

The name of Joseph Hughes has been mentioned as one 
of the faithful followers of William Kennedy. Both were 
proverbially brave — Hughes was probably the more reckless 
of the two — possessed more of a dare-devil character. 
Early one morning, he left his hiding-place, as one of the 
honored band of out-l3'ers, who preferred freedom at any 
sacrifice rather than tamely yield to the oppression around 
them, and visited his humble domicile, to see his little family, 
residing on the west side of Broad river, near the locality 
of the present village of Pinckneyville. He approached his 
house cautiously on horse-back, and when within a rod, 
three Tories suddenly sprang out of the door, and present- 
ing their guns, said exultingly : — 

* Wallace Manuscript. 


" You d — d Rebel, you are our prisoner ! " 

" You are d — d liars ! " defiantly yelled Hughes, as he 
instantly spurred his horse to his full speed. As he cleared 
the gate at a single leap, all three fired, but missed their 
mark, and he escaped without a scratch. These Tories had 
watched for him all night, and had just entered the house to 
get their breakfast as he rode up. They were naturally 
quite chop-fallen, when, having taken so much pains to 
secure so plucky an enemy of the King, they found them- 
selves, in the end, so completely foiled in their purpose.* 

On another occasion, when a scouting party of British 
and Tories was passing through what is now Union County, 
committing robberies, as was their wont, when they little 
suspected it, their footsteps were dogged by William Sharp, 
one of Kennedy's fearless heroes, with two associates. At 
Grindal Shoals, a notable ford of Pacolet, they came upon 
-the enemy. It was in the night, and very dark, which con- 
cealed their numbers, and favored their daring enterprise. 
The first intimation the British and Tories had of danger, 
was a bold demand on the part of Sharp and his associates 
for them to surrender instantly, or they would be blown into 
a region reputed pretty hot. In the surprise of the moment, 
they begged for quarter, and laid down their arms, to the 
number of twenty. The victors threw their guns into the 
river, before their prisoners discovered their mistake, and 
drove the captives to the nearest Whig encampment in that 
region, f 

In a quiet nook in Spartanburg lived a man named 
Woods — on one of the Forks of Tyger, we believe. He 
was not known as particularly demonstrative or combative 
among his neighbors, but was a true patriot, and unflinch- 
ing in times of danger. One day, when at home with his 
wife, he found his house surrounded by a party of deter- 
mined Tories. Seeing so overwhelming a superiority of 

* Wallace Manuscript. 
+ Wallace Manuscript. 


numbers against him, Woods, who had closed his house 
against them, proposed if they would, in good faith, agree 
to spare his own and wife's lives, they might come in un- 
opposed, and take whatever they wanted, otherwise, as he 
had two guns, he would sell his life as dearly as possible. 
They would make no promises, but demanded an uncon- 
ditional surrender. Woods commenced the unequal battle, 
availing himself of a crack between his house-logs, which 
served him as a port-hole, and kept up a brisk firing, his 
heroic wife loading his guns for him as fast as either was 
empty, till he had killed three of his assailants. They now 
became more desperate than ever, and, through the same 
crack, managed to send a ball which broke Mrs. Woods' 
arm. Tn the confusion of the moment, while Woods was 
assisting his wife, the Tories seeing his fire had slackened, 
rushed up to the door which they battered down, and cap- 
tured the intrepid defender. They took him a few rods 
away, into a copse of wood, where they soon beat him to 
death with clubs. Mrs. Woods was spared, and recovered.* 
In what was originally a part of Tryon, now Lincoln 
County, North Carolina, were manj^ Loyalists. Among 
them was Samuel Brown, who had been reared there, and 
proved himself not only an inveterate Tory, but a bold and 
unscrupulous plunderer. He had a sister, Charity Brown, 
who must have been a rough, reckless, bad woman. For 
quite a period, the two carried on very successful plunder- 
ing operations — including horses, bed-clothes, weai'ing ap- 
parel, pewter-ware, money, and other valuable articles. 
Sometimes they had confederates, but oftener they went 
forth alone on their pillaging forays. About fifteen miles 
west of Statesville, North Carolina, three miles above the 
Island Ford, there is a high blufT on the western side of the 
Catawba river, rising three hundred feet high, at a place 
known as the Look-Out Shoals. About sixty feet from the 

*MS. notes of conversations, in 1871, with Major A. J. Wells, of Montevallo, Alabama, 
a native of Spartanburg County, South Carolina. 


base of this bluff, under an over-hanging cliff, was a cave 
of considerable dimensions, sufficient to accommodate sev- 
eral persons, but the opening to which is now partially 
closed by a mass of rock sliding down from above. This 
cave was the depository for the plunder taken by stealth or 
violence from the poverty-stricken people in the country for 
m.any miles around ; for their depredations extended from 
the Shallow Ford of Yadkin to the region embracing the 
several counties of the north-western portion of South Caro- 

Sam Brown was once married to the daughter of a man 
residing near the Island Ford, but his wife, disliking the man, 
or his treatment of her, left him and returned to her father ; 
and in revenge for harboring and protecting her. Brown 
went one night and killed all his father-in-law's stock. A 
poor old blind man, named David Beard, living on Fourth 
creek, near what is now called Beard's bridge, about seven 
miles east of Statesville, had a few dollars in silver laid up, 
which Brown unfeelingly filched from him. Beard re- 
proached him for his wrongs and cruelties, and reminded 
him that he would have a hard account to render at the day 
of judgment for robbing a person in his poor and helpless 

"It's a long trust," retorted Brown; "but sure pay," 
promptly rejoined Beard. 

So notorious had become the robber's achievements, 
that he was known in all that region as Plundering Sam 
Brown. Among the Tories, he was designated as Captain 
Sam Brown. As early as the Spring of 1778, he was 
associated with the Tory leader, David Fanning ; and they 
were hiding in the woods together on Reaburn's creek, in 
now Laurens County, South Carohna, for the space of six 
weeks, living entirely upon what they killed in the wilder- 
ness, without bread or salt. There were too many watchful 
Whigs in this region to suit Brown's notions, so he wended 
his way to Green river, in what is now Polk County, in the 
south-western part of North Carolina. 


The advent of Colonel Ferguson to the up-country of 
South Carolina proved a perfect God-send to such hardened 
wretches as Brown. They could now dignify their plunder- 
ing with the sanction of his Majesty's faithful servants, 
Colonel Ferguson, Colonel Innes, and Major Dunlap. To 
such an extent had the people of the Spartanburg region 
been raided and over-run, during the summer of 1780, by 
these persistent pillagers, that the men had been compelled 
to fly to the distant bodies of Whigs under McDowell or 
Sumter, or become out-lyers in the wilderness. This left 
a comparatively open field for the marauders, and they 
were not slow to avail themselves of it. Captain Brown 
and his followers made frequent incursions in that quarter. 
He ventured, on one occasion, to the house of Josiah Cul- 
bertson, on Fair Forest, accompanied by a single associate 
named Butler, and inquired of Mrs. Culbertson for her hus- 
band. But this young woman, the daughter of the heroic 
Mrs. Colonel Thomas, gave him some pretty curt and un- 
satisfactory answers. Brown became very much provoked 
by this spirited woman, and retorted in much abusive and 
indecent language ; assuring her, furthermore, that he 
would, in a few da3's, return with his company, lay her 
house in ashes, kill her husband, and plunder and murder 
the principal Whigs of the neighborhood. After a good 
deal of tongue lashings and bravado of this character. 
Brown and Butler rode off, leaving Mrs. Culbertson to 
brood over her painful apprehensions. 

Brown's cup of iniquity was running over, and the day 
of retribution was at hand. Fortunately, Culbertson re- 
turned home that night, accompanied by a friend, Charles 
HoUoway, who was as brave and fearless as himself. The 
story of Brown's visit, his threats and insolence, very 
naturally roused Culbertson's feelings — indignation and re- 
sentment pervaded his whole nature. Beside this disgrace- 
ful treatment of his wife. Brown had apprehended the elder 
Colonel Thomas, the father of Mrs. Culbertson, soon after 


the fall of Charleston, and earned him, two of his sons, 
and his negroes and horses, to the British, at Ninety Six. 
Culbertson determined to capture the redoubtable plun- 
derer, or rid the countr}^ of so great a scourge. Hollo way 
was equally ready for the enterprise. 

Early the next morning, reinforced by William Neel, 
William Mcllhaney, and one Steedman,* they followed the 
tracks of the two marauders some ten or twelve miles, when 
they discovered Brown's and Butler's horses in a stable on 
the road-side, belonging to Dr. Andrew Thompson, in the 
region of Tyger river, where they had stopped for rest and 
refreshment. Culbertson's party now retraced their steps 
some distance, hitched their horses out of sight, and crept 
up within shot of Thompson's, posting themselves behind 
the stable, and eagerly watched the appearance of the Tory 
free-booters. At length Brown stepped out of the house 
into the yard, followed by Butler ; and as the Tory Captain 
was enjoying lazily a rustic yawn, with his hands locked 
over his head, he received a shot from Culbertson's deadly 
rifle, at a distance of about two hundred yards. The ball 
passed directly through his bod}^ just below his shoulders, 
and making a desperate bound, he fell dead against the door- 
yard fence. Holloway's fire missed Butler, the ball lodging 
in the door-jamb, just behind him ; but without waiting to 
learn the fate of his leader, or to secure his horse, he fled 
to the woods and escaped. Brown was an active, shrewd, 
heartless man — the terror of women and children wherever 
his name was known. Butler, it is believed, took the hint, 
and never re-appeared in Spartanburg. 

One tradition has it, that Brown's life of robbery and 
out-lawry commenced even before the Revolution, which 
may very well have been so. The amount of money cou- 
sin a MS. letter of Colonel Elijah Clarke to General Sumter, October 29th, 17S0, occurs 
this statement: "' I am to inform you, that the Tories killed Captains Hampton and Stid- 
man, at or near Fair Forest"— the latter, perhaps, the associate of Culbertson, in his suc- 
cessful foray against Brown, and for that very reason he probably lost his life, in retaliation, 
on the part of Brown's friends. 


cealed b}^ him was supposed to be large — the fruits of his 
predatory- life ; and frequent searches have been made to 
find the hidden treasure. In his secluded cave, he kept a 
mistress, but she professed ignorance of his localities of de- 
posit. A small sum only has been discovered by accident. 
The probabilities are, he never accumulated much mone}', 
as the frontier people whom he plundered were poor, and 
but little specie was in circulation beyond the immediate 
neighborhood of the British troops. 

After the death of her despicable brother, poor Charity 
Brown fled westward to the mountain region of what is now 
Buncombe and Haywood, and before her death, it is related, 
she made some revelations where to find valuables buried in 
the vicinity of the cave at the Look-Out Shoals ; and among 
articles subsequently discovered, were twelve sets of pewter- 
ware, which had been concealed in a large hollow tree. 
This, in the course of time, had been blown down by the 
wind, and thus revealed this long hidden booty of the rob- 
bers of the Catawba. It is currently stated by the super- 
stitious of that region, that when one comes near the cave, 
and tries to bring his batteau to land at the base of the cliff, 
he hears a fearful noise — not proceeding from the cave, so 
far above the water, but from the rock at the bottom. 

However this may be, Culbertson and Holloway, after 
their successful work at Thompson's, deliberately wiped 
their guns, reloaded them, and were again prepared for any 
perilous adventure. Not verj^ long after Brown's death, 
which was a source of rejoicing among the Whigs in all 
that region, Culbertson received word, that a noted Tory, 
whom he knew, then in North Carolina, threatened to kill 
him, in retaliation for Brown's death. They met one day 
unexpectedly, and instantly recognized each other, when 
both fired their rifles almost simultaneously ; Culbertson's 
cracked a moment first — the Tory fell dead, while the Whig 
rifleman escaped unhurt. 

Such sanguinary relations of civil warfare make one's 


blood almost curdle in the veins. The unmerciful conduct 
of Tarleton at Buford's defeat, had engendered a feeling of 
savage fury on the part of the Whigs, and as bitterly recipro- 
cated on the part of the Tories, which, in time, amounted 
to the almost utter refusal of all quarter. So that in the 
Carolinas and Georgia, the contest became, to a fearful 
extent, a war of ruthless bloodshed and extermination.* 
General Greene, a few months later, wrote thus freely of 
these hand-to-hand strifes: "The animosity," he said, 
" between the Whigs and Tories, rendered their situation 
truly deplorable. There is not a day passes but there are 
more or less who fall a sacrifice to this savage disposition. 
The Whigs seem determined to extirpate the Tories, and 
the Tories the Whigs. Some thousands have fallen in this 
way in this quarter, and the evil rages with more violence 
than ever. If a stop can not be put to these massacres, the 
country will be depopulated in a few months more, as 
neither Whig nor Tory can live."f 

*The authorities for the story of Plundering Sam Brown are : Fanning's Narrative ; 
obituary notice of Josiah Culbertson, in the Washington, Indiana, Weekly Register, Octo- 
ber 17th, 1839, with comments thereon, by Major Mcjunkin, preserved among the Saye 
MSS.; Ex-Governor B. F. Perry's sketch of Culbertson. in the Orion Magazine, June, 
1844; Johnson's Traditions, 423; and sketch of Sam Brown, by Rev. E. R. Rockwell, of 
North Carolina, in the Historical Magazine, October, 1873. 

t Greene's Li/e 0/ Greene^ iii, 227, 



August, 1780— March, 1781. 

CornwalHs' Hanging Propensities. — Sumter a thorn in his Lordship's 
side. — Dispersion of Whig Bands. — Ferguson' s Success in Training 
the Loyal Militia. — Action of the Alarmed Tory Leaders. — Ferguson 
Moves into Try on County. — Colonel Graham Repels a Party of Plun- 
derers. — Ruse for Saving Whig Stock. — Mrs. Lytle and her Beaver 
Hat. — Engagement on Caite Creek, and Major Dunlap -djounded. — 
Apprehension of Jonathati Hampton. — Dunlap' s Insolence. — Sketch 
of Dunlap' s Career and Death. 

Lord CoiTiwallis' success at Camden had, like the 
mastiff fed on meat and blood, made him all the more 
fierce for further strife and carnage. Two days after 
Gates' defeat, his Lordship wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel 
Cruger, at Ninety Six : "I have given orders that all the 
inhabitants of this Province, who had submitted, and who 
have taken part in this revolt, should be punished with the 
greatest rigor ; that they should be imprisoned, and their 
whole property taken from them or destroyed ; I have like- 
wise directed that compensation should be made out of 
their effects to the persons who have been plundered and 
oppressed by them. I have ordered, in the most positive 
manner, that every militia man who had borne arms with 
us, and had afterwards joined the enemy, should be imme- 
diately hanged. I have now, sir, only to desire that you 
will take the most vigorous measures to extinguish the 
rebellion, in the district in which you command, and that 
j'ou will obey, in the strictest manner, the directions I have 
given in this letter, relative to the treatment of the countr3\"* 

*This is the language of his Lordship's letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger, as given in 
the Cornwallis' Correspondence., i, 56-57. His Lordship seeius to have equivocated about 


These sanguinary orders were, in manj^ cases, most faith- 
fully obeyed — Tarleton, Rawdon, Balfour and Browne, par- 
ticularly demonstrating their fitness for carrying into effect 
these tyrannical measures. 

Sumter, by his plucky and frequent attacks on several 
British detachments, had proved himself a thorn in his 
Lordship's side. He had made a bold push against Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Turnbull at Rocky Mount ; then practically 
defeated Major Garden and the Tory Colonel Bryan, at 
Hanging Rock ; and finally captured Fort Carey, and a 
large convoy, below Camden. These were audacious 
things to do, evincing great contempt of his Majesty's 
Government, and of his Lordship's power and consideration 
in the Province. Turnbull, after Sumter's attack, had re- 
tired to Ferguson's quarters, on Little river ; and Ferguson 
meanwhile, had pushed further north to the Fair Forest 
region. On his great victory over Gates, Cornwallis direc- 
ted Turnbull and Ferguson to immediately put their corps 
in motion, and push on, if possible, to intercept Sumter's 
retreat towards North Carolina with his prisoners and spoils 
of victory. Tarleton was also sent in his pursuit, overtak- 
ing and surprising him at the mouth of Fishing creek, only 
two days after Gates' melancholy disaster near Camden. 

As we hear nothing more of Turnbull in the Ninety Six 
region, it is to be presumed that he was, not long after, 
recalled to the eastern part of South Carolina. The orders 
of Lord Cornwallis, which must have reached Colonel Fer- 
guson shortly after the affair at Musgrove's Mill, seem to 
have set that officer's forces in motion> After driving 
Clarke, Shelby, and Williams out of the Province, it only 
remained to pay his attention to McDowell's party, at 
Smith's Ford, on Broad river. On receipt of General Cas- 
well's letter, announcing the disaster of Gates, and advising 

the subject-matter of this letter; but he wrote a similar one, the same month, fully as 
blood-thirsty in its tone, to Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour, which is given in Sparks' Wash- 
zftg-ion, vii, 555-6. 


the independent detachments to retire bej^ond the reach of 
the victorious British, McDowell's force mostly disbanded 
and scattered — some of them, perhaps, like Shelby's men, 
because their term of service had expired ; while others, it 
may be, like Clarke's Georgians, because thej^ were volun- 
teers at pleasure. What was left of McDowell's command 
— less than two hundred, apparently — retired to their own 
mountain region of North Carolina, in the counties of 
Rutherford and Burke. 

That Ferguson, during the period he held command in 
the up-country, had been both untiring and successful, is 
well attested by a report of Lord Cornwallis to the Home 
Government, August twentieth, 1780: "In the district of 
Ninety Six," says his Lordship, "by far the most populous 
and powerful of the Province, Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour, 
by his great attention and diligence, and by the active 
assistance of Major Ferguson, who was appointed Inspector- 
General of the militia of this Province by Sir Henry Clin- 
ton, had formed seven battalions of militia, consisting of 
above four thousand men, and entirely composed of persons 
well-affected to the British Government, which were so 
regulated, that they could, with ease, furnish fifteen hundred 
men, at a short notice, for the defense of the frontier, or 
any other home service. But I must take this opportunity 
of observing, that this militia can be of little use for distant 
military operations, as they will not stir without a horse ; and, 
on that account, your Lordship will see the impossibility of 
keeping a number of them together without destroying the 
country." Turning their horses into fields of grain, and eat- 
ing out one settlement, they would soon necessarily have 
to remove to another. 

Only five days before the action at Musgrove's, while 
Ferguson and his troops were encamped at Fair Forest 
Shoal, in Brandon's Settlement, an important meeting 
was held there by the Loyalist officers and their men. 
The North Carolina battalion under Colonel Ambrose Mills, 


and the six South Carohna battahons — Cunningham's, Kirk- 
land's, Clary's, King's, Gibbs' and Plummer's were there in 
camp, while Lieutenant-Colonel John Philips, battalion, and 
another, were stationed at Edward Mobley's settlement, in 
the adjoining county of Fairfield, some twenty-five miles 
distant. All the Colonels seem to have been absent — Clary 
at Musgi-ove's ; but all the battalions were represented at 
the meeting. Lieutenant-Colonel Philips, Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel W. T. Turner, Majors Daniel Plummer, Zachariah 
Gibbs, and John Hamilton, and Adjutant Thomas D. Hill, 
Jr., being present. 

These Loyalist chiefs, who had flattered themselves that 
the Rebellion was, to all intents and purposes, quelled, and 
that they would soon be made lords and masters over the con- 
quered communities, now began to realize that the Whigs of 
the country would not " down" at their bidding — that Sum- 
ter, Marion, McDowell, Williams, Shelby, Clarke, Thomas, 
Brandon, Mcjunkin, and other leaders, were in arms, boldly 
attacking Tory parties whenever they could meet them on 
anything like an equal footing. The Loyal militia, when 
danger began to stare them in the face, showed signs of 
weakening and lagging. It was, therefore, important, as 
"the Rebels were again in the field," as they expressed it, 
that they should provide severe punishments for all of their 
Loyalist delinquents ; that their horses, cattle, grain, and 
arms should be forfeited, and they should be brought to 
trial, and punished in person as they deserved. They 
furthermore gave it as their unanimous expression, that 
whoever should act a treacherous part bj^ abandoning the 
Royal cause, deserting his battalion, or disobeying the 
orders of his commanding officers, is a worse enemy to the 
King and country than even the Rebels themselves, and 
that all good Loyalists should assist in the defense of the 
country, and that whoever neglects to assemble, and do 


service in the Loyal militia, should be made to serve in the 
regular army.* 

Lord Cornwallis, on the twenty-ninth of August, an- 
nounced to Sir Henrjr Clinton: "Ferguson is to move 
into Trjon county with some militia, whom, he says, he 
can depend upon for doing their duty and fighting well ; 
but I am sorry to say that his own experience, as well as 
that of every other officer is totally against him." It is not 
a little singular, that his Lordship, with his poor opinion of 
the fighting qualities of the Tories, should have ordered 
Ferguson so far beyond the reach of succor, in case of 
danger. As he could not spare any detachment of regulars 
to give them countenance, he probably hoped that the 
Whigs were so far cowed and dispersed, that they would 
not give Ferguson any serious opposition. 

As McDowell, Clarke, Shelby, and Williams had retired 
to the back parts of North Carolina, Ferguson, after awhile, 
followed into that quarter. His detachments, however, 
during the heats of summer, performed many of their move- 
ments at night, and kept beating about in various direc- 
tions, sometimes in the North Province and sometimes in 
the South, in search of prominent Whig leaders, over-awing 
all opposition, plundering whenever they found anj^thing 
which they needed or coveted, and administering the oath 
of allegiance to all who would take it, with liberal tenders 
of pardon to those who had been active and prominent par- 
ticipators in the rebellion. Many submissions were made ; 
but oftener, when Ferguson's and Dunlap's parties would 
call for the head of a Whig family, he was pretty certain, 
nine cases out of ten, not to be found at home — where he 
was, his wife and children could not say, for, in truth, they 
seldom knew, for the patriots and out-lyers beat about quite 
as much as those in quest of them. 

In consequence of this state of affairs, the old people, 

* MS. record obtained by Colonel Sevier from a Tory Colonel at King's Mountain, as 
given in Ramsey's Tennessee, 216-17. 


together with the women and children, would fiequently 
gather at the strongest and largest house in their region, 
taking with them all their arms, ammunition, and such house- 
hold goods as they needed, or could not conceal, with some- 
times a few men in vigorous life for their protection. Such 
a gathering in Colonel William Graham's neighborhood 
took place at his residence, near the west bank of Buffalo 
creek, in then Lincoln, now Cleveland county, about eight 
miles north of King's Mountain, and about seven miles 
south-east of the present village of Shelby. It was a large, 
hewn-log-house, weather-boarded, and, to some extent, forti- 
fied ; well fitted for a successful defence against any party 
with small arms alone, and who were not prepared to prose- 
cute a regular siege. 

Sometime in September, one of these Tory marauding 
parties, consisting of about twentj^-three in number, sud- 
denly made their appearance before Graham's Fort. The 
only persons there capable of bearing arms, for the defence 
of the many helpless people, old and young, congregated 
there, were Colonel Graham, David Dickey, and the Colo- 
nel's step-son, William Twitty, a brave youth of nineteen ; 
but they were fearless and vigilant. The Tory party 
demanded admittance, but were promptly refused by Colo- 
nel Graham and his associates. A warm attack was com- 
menced, the Tories firing several volleys, without doing 
much damage, yelling out at the top of their voices, after 
each discharge, "d — n yon, won't j'ou surrender now?" 

One fellow, John Burke, more venturesome than the 
rest, ran up to the house, and through a crack aimed at 
young Twitty, when Susan Twitty, the sister of the young 
soldier, seeing his peril, jerked her brother down just as 
the gun fired, the ball penetrating the opposite wall. She 
then looked out of the aperture, and saw Burke, not 
far off", on his knees, re-loading for another fire; and 
quickly comprehending the situation, exclaimed : " brother 
Wilham, now's your chance — shoot the rascal ! " The next 


instant young Twitty's gun cracked, and the bold Tory was 
shot through the head. So eager was Miss Tvvitty to ren- 
der the good cause any service in her power, that she at 
once unbarred the door, darted out, and brought in, amid 
a shower of Tory bullets, Burke's gun and ammunition, as 
trophies of victory. She fortunately escaped unhurt. It 
was a heroic act for a young girl of seventeen.* Losing 
one of their number killed, and three wounded, the Tories 
at length beat a retreat. Anticipating that the enemy, 
smarting under their repulse, would return with increased 
numbers, Colonel Graham and friends retired to a more dis- 
tant place of safety, when a large Tory party re-appeared, 
with no one to oppose them, and plundered the house of 
clothing and other valuables, and carried off six of Colo- 
nel Graham's negroes. | 

Another instance where a party of the enemy fared no 
better, occurred during the Tory ascendency in 1780. 
Adam Reep, a staunch Whig, returning home, after a tour 
of service under Colonel Graham, to visit his family, on the 
western bank of the Catawba river, in Lincoln County, 
had scarcely reached his humble domicile, when a party of 
ten or twelve Tories, under the leadership of a British offi- 
cer, made their appearance just at the gray of the evening. 
Reep, who, like a good minute man, was always on the 
watch, had barely time to close and bar his doors, when he 
mounted his ladder with his faithful rifle ; and through some 
port-holes in the loft of his house, he blazed away at his 
enemies, wounding two of them, when the party fell back 

* This noble heroine subsequently married John Miller, and died the 14th of April, 1825, 
at the age of sixty-two years. Her son, Hon. W.J. T. Miller, represented Rutherford 
County, in the Legislature of North Carolina, in 1836-40, and subsequently Cleveland 
County, when it was organized, and where he still resides an honored and useful citizen. 

Mrs. Miller's brother, William Twitty, who aided so gallantly in the defense of Gra- 
ham's Fort, was born in South Carolina, July 13th, 1761 ; he served at King's Mountain, 
and lived at Twitty's Ford, on Broad river, where he died February 2d, 1816, in his fifty- 
fifth year. He has njany worthy decendants, among them William L. and Dr. T. B. Twitty, 
grandsons, the latter residing at the old homestead. 

t MS. pension statement of Colonel Graham, and MS. correspondence of Hon. W. J. 
T. Miller, William L. Twitty, and Dr. T. B. Twitty. 


to a safer distance, and finally retired with their disabled 

Colonel Ferguson encamped awhile at Gilbert Town, 
some three miles north of the present village of Rutherford- 
ton. For many miles around people wended their way to 
the head-quarters of this noted representative of the British 
crown; thinking, as Charleston had fallen. Gates been 
defeated, Sumter surprised and dispersed, and the various 
detachments lately in force in the Spartanburg region were 
disbanded or scattered, that the Whig cause was now utterly 
prostrate and hopeless. Many of those who now took the 
oath of allegiance to the British Government, subsequently 
excused their conduct on the plea that the country was over- 
run, and that this was the only course by which they could 
save their property, secure themselves and families from 
molestation, and at the same time preserve the stock of the 
country for the supply of the needy patriots thereafter. 

While in this mountain region, Ferguson found he had 
a case of small-pox developing itself. It was one of his 
officers, who was left in a deserted house, taking his favor- 
ite charger with him. And there the poor fellow died in 
this lonely situation ; and it is said his neglected horse 
lingered around till he at length died also. It was a long 
time before any of the country people would venture to 
visit the solitary pest-house — 

"And there lay the rider, distorted and pale, 
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail." 

Finalljr some one ventured there and carried off the sword, 
holsters, and pistols, selling them to John Ramsour, who 
gave them, nearly thirty years after, to Michael Reinhardt.f 
Ferguson led a detachment to surprise Colonel McDow- 
ell at the head of Cane creek. An engagement took place 
with McDowell's troops, who had been beating about the 

'■' MS. statement of W. M. Reinhardt. Esq., of Lincolnton, North Carolina, who many 
years ago had the facts from Reap himself, 

fMS. statement of W. M. Reinhardt, son of Michael, who yet preserves these relics 
of a century ago. 


mountain country, since retiring from Smith's Ford on 
Broad river, and were now retreating towards the Watauga 
in East Tennessee. The British force encamped at the noted 
White Oak Spring, a mile and a half east of the present 
village of Brindletown, in the south-eastern part of Burke 
County as now constituted, and on the direct road from 
Morganton to Gilbert Town. McDowell learning their 
position, and too weak to meet the enemy on anything like 
equal terms, concluded to waylay them on renewing their 
southward march. He, therefore, selected a fitting spot for 
an ambuscade at Bedford's Hill, some three miles south- 
west of Brindletown, in the south-eastern corner of 
McDowell County, and something like fifteen miles from 
Gilbert Town. This hill was a small round elevation about 
a quarter of a mile from the base of the South Mountains 
then covered with timber and surrounded by a soft swamp ; 
located on the eastern side, and just below, the Upper 
Crossing of Cane creek, now known as Cowan's Ford — 
which ford the hill commanded. If forced to retire, the 
Whio-s had an easy access to the mountains close by, where 
they would be safe against almost any force that the enemy 
could send against them. 

Here McDowell's partj' awaited the coming of the British 
force, and, as they were passing the ford, an indecisive fight 
transpired. The enem}', after receiving the unexpected 
fire of McDowell's backwoodsmen, rallied, and beat back 
the Americans, killing, among others, one Scott, of Burke 
County, while standing beside the late James Murphy, of 
that region. By the heroic efforts especially of Major 
Joseph McDowell — the Colonel's brother, Captain Thomas 
Kennedy, and one McKay, the Whigs were again brought 
into action. Major McDowell was particularly active, 
swearing roundly that he would never yield, nor should his 
Burke boys — appealing to them to stand by and die with 
him, if need be. B}^ their united bravery and good bush- 
whacking management, in which their real wickedness was 


concealed, and by their activity and well directed rifle-shots 
they succeeded in inflicting considerable execution on their 
antagonists — killing several, and, among others, v\founding 
Major Dunlap. The British now retired to Gilbert Town, 
conveying their disabled commander with them, who was 
severely wounded in the leg ; while McDowell's party, 
numbering about one hundred and sixty only, directed their 
retreat up the Catawba valley, and over the mountains, 
for the friendly Watauga settlements. 

Quite a number of human bones were brought to light, 
some forty years ago, at the point where this Cane creek 
fight occurred — the remains of the British and Tories who 
fell in this spirited contest. This action occurred, according 
to Lieutenant Allaire's MS. Diary, on the twelfth of Sep- 
tember ; and had its influence, as the sequel will show, in 
rousing the people over the mountains, as well as in Wilkes 
and Surry, to embody under their gallant leaders, and strike 
a decisive blow against the bold invader, Ferguson.* 

It has been stated, near the close of the chapter on the 
Musgrove's Mill expedition, that Shelby and his associates 
on that service had agreed, that as soon as they could col- 
lect the necessary force, they would embody their several 
detachments, and attack Ferguson. It was correctly antici- 
pated that so soon as that British leader and his forces 
should exhaust the beef supply in the Spartanburg region, 
he would be quite certain to advance into Rutherford and 
Burke Counties, in North Carolina, where, in the latter 
especially, there were large stocks of fine cattle ; and it was 

*MS. letter of Colonel Isaac T. Avery, October 19th, i860, to Hon. D. L. Swain; MS. 
pension statements of General Thomas Kennedy, Colonel William Graham, James Blair, 
William Walker, and Matthew Kuykendall; General Lenoir's Account 0/ King s Mountain, 
appended to this volume ; MS. correspondence of Colonel S. McDowell Tate, of Morganton ; 
T. A. Lewis, of Brindletown ; M. O. Dickerson and A D. K. Wallace, of Rutherfordton, 
North Carolina; the venerable Andrew B. Long, of Rutherford County, whose father, at 
the time of this action a boy of ten years, resided on Cane creek ; and Wm. L, and Dr. 
T. B. Twitty also of Rutherford County. 

Lieutenant Allaire's Diary not only supplies the date of this little engagement, but 
serves to corroborate the tradition of the country, that McDowell's men were drawn uP 
"on an eminence "—Bedford's Hill apparently ; that, according to this account, the Whigs 
were worsted, losing one private killed,. Captain White wounded, seventeen prisoners, and 
twenty pounds of powder while the British had one killed, and two wounded-Captain 
Dunlap, one of them, receiving two wounds. 


enjoined on Colonel Charles McDowell, to devise the best 
means possible to preserve these stocks from the grasp of 
the British and Tories. 

Colonel McDowell called the leading men of the Upper 
Catawba valley together, and suggested, simply to meet the 
present emergency, that they should repair to Gilbert Town, 
take British protection, and thereby save the Whig stock, 
so necessary for the support of the country, from being 
appropriated by the enemy ; that no man would thereby 
become a Tory at heart, but would merely exercise a wise 
stroke of public policy — that the end would justify the 
means and render the country a good service. Daniel 
Smith, afterwards Colonel, Captains Thomas Lytle and 
Thomas Hemphill, Robert Patton, and John McDowell, of 
Pleasant Garden — better known as Hunting John McDowell 
— absolutely refused to engage in any such course, and 
stated that they would drive all the stock they could collect 
into the deep coves at the base of the Black Mountain ; that 
others might, if they would, take protection and save the 
remainder that could not be readily collected and concealed. 
Captain John Carson, a distinguished Indian fighter, after- 
wards known as Colonel Carson, Benjamin and William 
Davidson, and others, were designated to take protection, 
and thus save many valuable herds of cattle from the grasp 
of the enemy.* It was a very ungracious act on their part ; 
but Carson and his associates deemed it justifiable under 
the circumstances — suggested and urged, as it was, by 
Colonel McDowell, in behalf of the Whig cause. While 
they accomplished the object they had in view, their 
motives, in the course of time, were unjustly misjudged 
and impugned, f 

* MS. statements of General Joseph McDowell and Colonel David Vance, made in 1797, 
and preserved by the late Hon. Robert Henry— all participants in the King's Mountain 

fHon. Samuel P. Carson, a distinguished member of Congress, and son of Colonel Car- 
son, resented an aspersion on his venerable father's character, when charged with having 
been a Tory, which resulted in an unfortunate duel, and the death of his antagonist. 


As had been anticipated by the patriots, Ferguson, either 
in full force, or with a strong detachment, penetrated into 
the very heart of Burke County — as far as Davidson's 
" Old Fort," in the extreme western part of then Burke, 
now McDowell county ; * and a few miles farther north, up 
the Catawba Valley, as far as the old Edmondson place, 
since McEntyre's, on Buck creek at the foot of the Blue 
Ridge. On their way thither, the British force was supplied 
with beef, corn, and other necessaries, b}' one Wilson, an 
Irishman, who afterwards migrated to Tennessee, and for 
which he received a draft on the British Government from 
which, probably, he never received any avails, f 

While in the region of Old Fort, a detachment of the 
enemy, under the command, it is believed, of Col. Fergu- 
son, concluded to pay a visit to Captain Thomas Lytle, a 
noted Whig leader, who resided some four miles south-west 
of that locality on Crooked creek. Mrs. Lytle, a spirited 
woman, heard of this intended visitation a little in advance 
of the approach of the party, and concluded she would 
don her nice new gown and beaver hat, in procuring which 
for his young wife. Captain Lytle had spent nearly all his 
Continental money. It was pardonable of Mrs. Lytle to 
make this display, for there were no meetings or public 
gatherings, in that frontier mountain region, in those troub- 
lous times, where she could appear in her gaudy array of 
new finery. She naturally felt a secret satisfaction, as her 
husband was not in the way of danger, that this occasion 
had presented itself, in which she could gratify the feehngs 
of a woman's pride in making what she regarded as an 
uncommonly attractive appearance. She took unusual 
pains in making up her toilet ; for though she was no Tory, 
she yet supposed that Colonel Ferguson was a gentleman, 
as well as a prominent British officer. 

*MS. Correspondence of Colonel Silas McDowell. 

+ MS. letter of Colonel Isaac T. Avery, November 2d, i860, on authority, of Major Ben 
Burgin, whose memory went back to the Revolution. 


At length, the Colonel, at the head of his squadron, leis- 
urelj' rode up toward the house. He halted in front of the 
door, and inquired if he could have the pleasure of a few 
moments' conversation with Captain Lj^tle? Mrs. Lytle 
stepped to the door in full costume — probably the best 
dressed lady the Colonel had seen since he left Charles- 
ton — and dropping him a polite courtesy, in accordance 
with the fashion of that day, invited him to alight and 
come in. He thanked her, but his business, he said, 
required haste ; that the King's army had restored his 
authority in all the Southern Provinces, and that the rebel- 
Hon was virtually quelled ; that he had come up the Valley 
to see Captains Lytle and Hemphill, and a few others, who 
had served in the Rebel army against the King, and that 
he was the bearer of pardons for each of them. 

"My husband," Mrs. Lytle replied, " is from home." 

"Madame," inquired the Colonel, earnestly, "do you 
know where he is ?" 

"To be candid with you. Colonel," said Mrs. Lytle, " I 
really do not ; I only know that he is out with others of his 
friends whom you call Rebels." 

"Well, madame," replied Ferguson, deprecatingly, " I 
have discharged my duty ; I felt anxious to save Captain 
Lj'tle, because I learn that he is both brave and honorable. 
If he persists in rebellion, and comes to harm, his blood 
be upon his own head." 

"Colonel Ferguson," she responded, thoughtfully but 
firmly, " I don't know how this war may end ; it is not un- 
unlikely that my husband may fall in battle ; all I positively 
know is, that he will never prove a traitor to his country." 

" Mrs. Lytle," said the Colonel, patronizingly, "I admire 
you as the handsomest woman I have seen in North Caro- 
lina — I even half way admire your zeal in a bad cause ; 
but, take my word for it, the rebellion has had its day, and 
is now virtually put down. Give my kind regards to Cap- 
tain Lytle, and tell him to come in. He will not be asked 


to compromise his honor ; his verbal pledge not again to 
take up arms against the King, is all that will be asked of 
him." He then bowed to Mrs. Lytle, and led off his 
troop. A straggler in the rear rode back, and taking off 
his old slouched hat, made her a low bow, and with his left 
hand hfted her splendid beaver from her head, replacing it 
with his wretched apology, observing with mock gravity, 
"Mrs. Lylle, I can not leave so 'handsome a I'ady without 
something by which to remember you." As he rode off, 
she hallooed after him : "You'll bite the dust for that, you 
villain ! " Thus Mrs. Lytle momentaril}^ enjoyed the occa- 
sion of arraying herself in her best ; but, as she afterwards 
confessed, she paid dearly for the gratification of her pride, 
and long mourned the loss of her beautiful beaver hat.* 

Colonel McDowell had completely outwitted Ferguson 
and his plundering Tory followers ; and the hungry horde, 
who invaded the Upper Catawba Valley with high hopes 
and expectations, returned to their camps near Gilbert 
Town without any beef cattle as a recompense for all their 
toils and troubles. 

After the affair at Cane creek, and the final retirement 
beyond the mountains of the last remnant of embodied 
Whig forces in the western region of the Carolinas, Fergu- 
son thought the matter decided. When William Green 
rode up with a troop of cavalry, and tendered his and their 
services for the defense of the King's cause, Ferguson 
thanked them for their loyalty ; but declined their accept- 
ance, as the country was subdued, and everything was quiet. 

It was reported to Colonel Ferguson, that Jonathan 
Hampton, a son of Colonel Andrew Hampton, residing in 
the vicinity of Gilbert Town, held the King's authorit}? in 

=■= MS. correspondence with the late Colonel Silas McDowell, of Macon County, North 
Carolina, in 1873-74, who had these particulars from Mrs. Lytle herself. Colonel McDowell* 
thought it was Tarleton who visited Captain Lytle's, but it could not have been, as his 
"Campaigns" and map of the route of his excursions show that he was never above 
Cowan's Ford on the Catawba, while it is certain that Colonel Ferguson was in Burke 
County. Captain Lytle died not very far from 1832, at the age of about eighty-three years; 
and his venerable companion gently passed away about the same time. 


great contempt ; that he had the hardihood to accept a com- 
mission of Justice of the Peace from the Rebel Government 
of North Carolina, and had, only recently, ventured, by 
virtue of that instrument, to unite Thomas Fleming and 
a neighboring young lady in the holy bonds of wedlock. 
It was a high crime and misdemeanor in British and Tory 
e3'es. So a party of four or five hundred men were dis- 
patched, under Majors Plummer and Lee, to visit the 
Hampton settlement, four or five miles south-west of Gil- 
bert Town, to apprehend young Hampton, and possibly 
entrap his father at the same time. But the Colonel had 
left the day before, and re-united with McDowell's forces. 
Riding up to j'oung Hampton's cabin, they found him sit- 
ting at the door, fastening 'on his leggings, and getting 
himself in readiness to follow his father to the Whig camp 
in some secluded locality in the mountain coves of that 

At this moment, James Miller, and Andrew and David 
Dickey, three Whig friends, came within hailing distance, 
and hallooed: "Jonathan, are those men in the yard, 
friends or foes ! " 

Hampton, without exercising ordinary prudence, re- 
plied : " Boys, whoever you are, they are d — d Red Coats 
and Tories — clear yourselves ! " 

As they started to run, the Tories fired two or three vol- 
leys at them ; but they fortunately escaped unhurt. Per- 
haps Hampton presumed somewhat upon his partially 
crippled condition that forbearance would be shown him, 
for he was reel-footed ; yet he managed to perform many a 
good service for his country, and, as in this case, would ^ 
lose sight of self, when he could hope to benefit his friends. 
Mrs. Hampton chided him for his imprudence, saying: 
"Why, Jonathan, you are the most unguarded man I ever 

The Tory party cursed him soundly for a d — d Rebel, 
and Major Lee knocked him down, and tried to ride over 


him, but his horse jumped clear over his body without 
touching him. Lee had just before appropriated Hamp- 
ton's horse as better than his own, and it may be that the 
animal recognized his master, and declined to be a party 
to his injury. While Major Plummer was courteous and 
considerate, Major Lee was rude and unfeeling in the 
extreme, Hampton, and his wife's brother, Jacob Hyder, 
were made prisoners ; and those who had Hampton in 
charge, swore that they would hang him on the spot, and 
began to uncord his bed for a rope for the purpose, when 
Mrs. Hampton ran to Major Plummer with the alarm, and 
he promptly interposed to prevent the threatened execution. 
Some of the disappointed Tories, who thirsted for his 
blood, declared in his presence, that Ferguson would put 
so notorious a Rebel to death the moment he laid eyes on 
him. Major Plummer informed Hampton if he could 
give security for his appearance the next day at Gilbert 
Town, he might remain over night at home. He tried 
several Loyalists whom he knew, but they declined ; and 
finally Major Plummer himself offered to be his security. 
According to appointment, the next day Hampton pre- 
sented himself to Ferguson, at Gilbert Town, who pro- 
ceeded to examine his case. When asked his name, he 
frankly told him, adding, that, though in the power of his 
enemies, he would never deny the honored name of Hamp- 
ton. Major Dunlap, then on crutches, entering the room, 
inquired of Colonel Ferguson the name of the Rebel 
on trial? " Hampton," replied Ferguson. This seemed to 
rouse Dunlap's ire, who repeated thoughtfully: "Hamp- 
ton — Hampton — -that's the name of a d — d fine-looking 
young Rebel I killed a while since, on the head of Paco- 
let," referring to the affair at Earle's Ford, when Noah 
Hampton, a brother of the prisoner, was murdered in cold 
blood. Dunlap added: "Yes; I now begin to recall 
something of this fellow; and though a cripple, he has done 
more harm to the Royal cause than ten fighting men ; he is 


one of the d — dest Rebels in all the country, and ought to 
be strung up at once, without fear or favor." 

Jonathan Hampton had, indeed, been an unwearied 
friend of the Whig cause. He was a good talker ; he kept 
up the spirits of the people, and helped to rally the men 
when needed for military service. Even in his crippled 
condition, he would cheerfully lend a helping hand in stand- 
ing guard; and, when apprehended, was about abandoning 
his home to join his father and McDowell in their flight to 
Watauga. But Ferguson was more prudent and humane 
than Dunlap, and dismissed both Hampton and Hj'der on 
their parole. Hampton observed when Ferguson wrote the 
paroles, he did so with his left hand ; for, it will be remem- 
bered, his right arm had been badly shattered at Brandywine, 
the use of which he had never recovered. Hyder tore up 
his parole, shortly after leaving Ferguson's presence ; but 
Hampton retained his as long as he lived, but never had 
occasion to use it, as Ferguson shortly after retired to 
King's Mountain, and the region of Gilbert Town was 
never after invaded bj^ a British force.* 

Major James Dunlap, who figured so prominently in the 
military operations in Spartanburg during the summer of 
1780, now claims at our hands a further and final notice. 
Of his origin, we have no account. He must have been a 
man of enterprise, for he was commissioned a Captain in 
the Queen's Rangers, a partisan corps, November twenty- 
seventh, 1776. This corps had been raised during the sum- 
mer and autumn of that year, from native Loyalists, mostly 
refugees from Connecticut, and from the vicinity of New 

*MS. correspondence of Adam and James J. Hampton, sons of Jonathan Hampton, in 
1873-74: MS. letter of Colonel Isaac T. Avery, October igth, i860; and MS. letter of Colo- 
nel Silas ^TcDowell, July 13th, 1873. 

This sterling patriot. Jon.ithan Hampton, was born on Dutchman's creek, Lincoln 
County, near the Catawba river, North Carolina, in 1751; and when nearly grown, he 
removed with his father, and settled on Mountain creek, four or five miles south-west of 
Gilbert Town. He was many years clerk of the Rutherford court, and five years repre- 
sented the County in the State Senate in the early part of the present century. He died 
at Gilbert Town, October 3d. 1843, at the venerable age of ninety-two years. Of his large 
family, but one son survives — Jonathan Hampton, Jr., now eighty-five years of age. 


York, by Colonel Robert Rogers, who had distinguished 
himself with a corps of Rangers on the frontiers of New 
York and Canada, during the French and Indian war of 
1755-60. The month before Dunlap had become a Captain 
in the corps, Rogers had been surprised at Mamoroneck, 
on Long Island Sound,' losing nearly eighty killed and cap- 
tured, together with sixty stand of arms.* 

Such was the daring and good service of the Qiieen's 
Rangers at Brandy wine, September eleventh, 1777, that 
the British Commander-in-chief particularly complimented 
them "for their spirited and gallant behavior in the engage- 
ment," f in which they suffered severely. The ensuing 
year they shared in the operations around Philadelphia, 
and in New Jersey. In the affair at Hancock's House, 
near Salem, New Jersey, on the night of the twentieth of 
March, 1778, Captain Dunlap bore a prominent part. The 
order was a most sanguinary one: — " Go — sfare no one — 
■put all to death — give no quarters!'^ The house was gar- 
risoned by twenty men, under Captain Carleton Sheppard ; 
and with them were four Loyalist prisoners — ^Judge Han- 
cock, the owner of the house, and three other Qiiakers — 
one of whom was Charles Fogg, " a very aged man." All 
were asleep, and the work of death by the sword and bayo- 
net was quick and terrible. Some accoimts represent that 
all, others two-thirds, of the occupants, garrison and prison- 
ers, were horribly mangled by Dunlap and his fiendish as- 
sociates — among them were Judge Hancock and some of 
his Quaker brethren. Simcoe, of the Rangers, speaks of 
this undesigned destruction of their friends as "among the 
real miseries of war," though he had no tears to shed for 
the score or two of patriots who fell without resi stance.]: 

Dunlap and the Queen's Rangers shared in the British 
retreat from Philadelphia to New York, and in the battle of 

* Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, ii, 615. 
t Simcoe'syiJ7^r«rt/, 319. 

XlQh-as,oxi' 5 History of Salem New Jersey: T.arber and Howe's Historical Collections 
of New Jersey, 426-28 ; Lossing's Field Book, ii, 139 ; Simcoe' s Journal, 51-52. 


Monmouth, in June, 1778. On the thirty-first of August 
ensuing, the Rangers participated in a bloody affair near 
King's Bridge, on the Hudson. A party of Americans and 
friendly Stockbridge Indians were drawn into an ambus- 
cade, which resulted in the loss of nearl}^ fort}' — fully twenty 
of whom were Indians, either killed or desperately woun- 
ded, and among the slain were Ninham, their chief, and his 
son of the same name.* The following year, besides some 
garrison dutjr at Oj'Ster Bay, the Rangers served on forag- 
ing and scouting parties, during which they encountered 
some occasional skirmishing. In one of these forays, at 
Brunswick, New Jersey, they were unexpectedly fired upon 
by the Americans in ambush ; and among other casualties, 
their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe, was taken 
prisoner. Sir Henry Clinton, early in 1780, declared that 
the history of the corps had been a " sei"ies of gallant, skil- 
ful, and successful enterprises against the enemy, without a 
reverse, and have killed and taken twice their own num- 

Such were the services of the Queen's Rangers, and the 
experience of Captain Dunlap, prior to his engaging in the 
expedition against Charleston, in December, i779- He 
would seem to have been one of the picked officers of Colo- 
nel Ferguson, for his select partisan corps for this new 
enterprise. Dunlap shared in the siege and capture of 
Charleston, doubtless in the same operations, as described 
in a previous chapter, in which Ferguson's corps was 
engaged, and was sent to the western borders of South 
Carolina, under Ferguson, immediately after the fall of 
Charleston. His attack on McDowell's force at Earle's 
Ford, on North Pacolet, and the affair near Cedar Spring 
and Wofford's Iron Works, together with the engagement 
at Cane creek, where he was severely wounded, have 
already been related. 

" Continental Journal, September 17th, 1778; Simcoe's Military Journal, 83-86, and 
accompanying diagram; Massacre 0/ the Stockbridge Indians, by Thomas F. De Voe, in 
Magazine of Ajnerican History, September, 1880. 

I Sxmcoit' s Journal, introductory memoir, x. 


Majoi- Dunlap has left behind him an unenviable repu- 
tation. The bloocl}^ work he performed at the Hancock 
House, and his share in the destruction of Ninham and his 
Stockbridge warriors, would appear to have been in the 
line of his taste and character. "He had," says Judge 
Johnson, in his Life of Gj-ccne, "rendered himself infamous 
by his barbarity." "His severities," said Major James 
Sevier, one of the King's Mountain men, "incensed the 
people against him." It is certain he was an advocate for 
hanging Whigs for no other crime than sympathizing with 
their suffering country ; his brutal language to this effect, 
in the presence of, and concerning Jonathan Hampton, must 
be fresh in the reader's remembrance. That such a man, 
characterized by such practices, should, sooner or later, 
come to an untimely end, is neither strange nor unexpected. 

SnufEng the approaching storm, Ferguson suddenly 
abandoned his camp at Gilbert Town to avoid the approach 
of the over-mountain men. Dunlap, upon his crutches, and 
in such a hurried retreat, was in no condition to accompany 
the retiring forces. William Gilbert, with whom he was 
stopping while recovering from his wound, was a loyal 
friend of King George ; and while he himself seems to have 
gone off with Ferguson, Mrs. Gilbert and the family re- 
mained to take proper care of the invalid. A soldier of the 
name of Coates was left to wait upon him, but who, not 
long after, provoking the mortal ire of a negro of Gilbert's, 
was killed by him, and his remains consumed in a coal-pit. 

This event of ill-omen was speedily followed by an almost 
tragic occurrence. The avenger of blood was nigh. Two 
or three men from Spartanburg rode to the door of the Gil- 
bert house, shortly after Ferguson had commenced his 
retreat for King's Mountain, when the leader. Captain Gil- 
lespie, asked Mrs. Gilbert if Major Dunlap was not up 
stairs? She frankly replied that he was, probably supposing 
that the party were Loyalists, and had some important com- 
munication for him. They soon disabused her of their 


character and mission, for they declared that he had been 
instrumental in putting some of their friends to death, and, 
moreover, had abducted the beautiful Mary McRea, the affi- 
anced of Captain Gillespie, as she would not encourage his 
amorous advances, and kept her in confinement, trusting 
that she would in time yield to his wishes ; but death came 
to her relief, she probably dying broken-hearted. They 
had now come for revenge ; Gillespie, particularly, uttering 
his imprecations on the head of the cruel destroyer of all 
his earthly hopes. So saj'ing, they mounted the stairs, 
when Gillespie abruptly approached Dunlap, as he lay in 
bed, with the inquiry: "Where is Mary McRea?" "In 
heaven," was the reply ; whereupon the injured Captain 
shot him through the body ; and quickly remounting their 
horses, Gillespie and his associates bounded away towards 
their Spartanburg homes. This is the tradition, sifted and 
collated, as preserved in the Hampton family.* 

Colonel Silas McDowell, who visited his old friertd, Jona- 
than Hampton, in 183 1, heard him relate the story of Dun- 
lap being shot, but could only recall the main fact, that the 
perpetrator of the act, some friend of Noah Hampton, whom 
Dunlap had boasted of slaying, had rushed to the Major's 
up-stairs room, and shot him through the body as he lay on 
his couch. M. O. Dickerson, Esq., of Rutherfordton, has 
had substantially the same relation from Mr. Hampton. 
The old Gilbert house was then standing, and Hampton 
pointed out to both these visitors the stain of Dunlap's blood 
still discernible upon the floor ; and there are others, still 
living, who have seen it also. This venerable building, 
in which the early courts of the County were held, when 
about to fall from age, was taken down some four or five 
years since, by its present owner, J. A. Forney, Esq., who 

*MS. correspondence with the late venerable Adam and James J. Hampton, in 1873- 
74; and the present venerable Jonathan Hampton, in 1880, sons of the patriot, Jonathan 
Hampton. Sr. 

W. O. Dickerson states that it has been handed down as the opinion of some of the old 
people of that region, that Mrs. Gilbert and her son made way with the unfortunate Major 
Dunlap ; but this seems to have been a cruel and baseless suspicion. 







has preserved the blood-stained floor-plank. While these 
traditions differ somewhat in their details, all having a com- 
mon origin from the old patriarch, Jonathan Hampton, Sr., 
they all agree in the general conclusion, that Dunlap was 
shot in retaliation for alleged cruelties — either in killing 
Whigs, or abducting Miss McRea, or both ; and all coin- 
cide in the belief, that the redoubtable Major was killed 
outright, and buried about three hundred yards south of the 
Gilbert house, the grave being still pointed out, marked by 
a granite rock at the head and foot.* 

Major James Holland lived at Gilbert Town for many 
years, and was a prominent character. In 1783, he repre- 
sented Rutherford County in the State Senate ; in 17S6 and 
1789, he was in the House of Commons, and served a term 
in Congress from 1795 to 1797. In this latter j^ear, he was 
again chosen to a seat in the State Senate, and then served 
five consecutive terms in Congress, from 1801 until 181 1. 
The late venerable Adam Hampton wrote in 1873 : " I will 
relate to you what I heard Major James Holland say in 
reference to Major Dunlap's grave. He said that in 1809, 
w^hile serving as a member of Congress at Washington, he 
dreamed that a quantity of gold ^vas buried with Dunlap, 
and, on his return home, he opened the grave, and found 
sixty-one guineas." 

From all these traditions and relations, it would ordi- 
narily be concluded, that Dunlap assuredly di-ed of the 
wound inflicted by Captain Gillespie. It is quite clear, 
however, that he did not. We can only suppose that, when 
shot, he was left unconscious, or feigned death ; and when 
Gillespie's party departed, it was reported, for his safety, 
that he was killed and buried near by ; and it is possible, 
that the Major may have had his servant, Coates, secrete 
his money there before the latter was murdered by the 
negro. Though in a Tory region, it would not have been 

*MS. letters of Adam, James J., and Jonathan Hampton, Jr., and M. O. Dickerson, 
W. L. and Dr. T. B. Twitty, and MibS N. M. JIcDowell. 


safe to have had it known that Dunlap was still alive ; for 
Gillespie, or others, would surely have come to make the 
work of death more certain next time. He was too feeble, 
with this additional wound, to be removed at once to Ninety- 
Six — the nearest British fort, after Cornwallis had fled from 
Charlotte ; and it was fully ninety miles from Gilbert Town 
to Ninety Six, in a direct course, and considerably more by 
such by-ways as it would have been necessary to pursue, in 
order to avoid the intervening Whig settlements. Hence 
the necessity of circulating this report of his death, which 
must have been well kept, and which the Hampton family 
fully credited, and which Major James Sevier corroborated, 
in a general way, to the writer, in 1844, by asserting, that 
for his cruelties, Dunlap had been killed by a party of 
Whigs at Gilbert Town. But as Major Sevier made no 
mention of having heard anything concerning Dunlap on 
the night of the third of October, when he and his fellow- 
mountaineers were at Gilbert Town, the wounded Major 
must, at that time, have been secreted somewhere in the 
neighboring hills or fastnesses for safety. And even after 
the war, as Gilbert was well known, and had figured some- 
what in public life, he may have deemed it good policy to 
refrain from revealing the fact that he or his family had so 
long concealed Dunlap, and perhaps secretly aided him in 
effecting his escape to Ninety Six. 

As soon as he was able to ride, it would seem, he was 
conveyed to Ninety Six ; and if any gold had been buried 
bj^ Coates in his behalf, near by, for safe keeping. Major 
Dunlap must have been unable to find it, for had the Gil- 
berts secreted it for him, they would have known the place 
of its concealment. We find him at Ninety Six, in March, 
1781, and sufficiently recovered for active service. He was 
sent with a party of seventy-six dragoons on a foraging 
expedition. Receiving intelligence of this plundering ma- 
raud, General Pickens detached Colonel Clarke and Major 
McCall with a sufficient force to attack him. On the 


twenty-fourth of March, they came up with him encamped 
at Beattie's Mill, on Little river, some twenty-two miles 
from Ninety Six. Dispatching a party to take possession 
of a bridge over which Dunlap would necessarily pass on 
his return, the main body advanced and took him b}^ sur- 
prise. He retired into the mill and some neighboring out- 
houses, but which were too open for protection against rifle- 
men. "Recollecting," as the historian, McCall, asserts, 
"his outragedus conduct to the families and friends of those 
by whom he was attacked, Dunlap resisted for several hours, 
until thirty -four of his men were killed and wounded — him- 
self among the latter — -when a flag was hung out, and they 
surrendered," else all would have been sooner or later 
picked oft" by Clarke's and McCall's unerring riflemen. 
In General Pickens' report, as published by Congress, the 
number is stated as thirty-four of the enemy killed, and 
forty-two taken ; so the wounded must have been included 
among the captives. The prisoners were sent to Watauga 
settlement, in East Tennessee, for safe keeping. 

"The British account of this*affair," adds McCaU, 
' ' stated that Dunlap was murdered by the guard having 
him in chargCj after his surrender ; but such was not the 
fact — for he died of his wounds the ensuing night." It is 
evident from General Greene's general order of the subse- 
quent sixteenth of April, that Dunlap was taken prisoner, 
and nothing could have been said in Pickens' first report of 
the action relative to the Major's death ; hence it could 
hardly have occurred so soon after his surrender as McCall 
states. But McCall errs in supposing that Dunlap was not 
killed by his guard, or by some one with their connivance. 
It was covered up, as much as possible, by those who per- 
petrated the act ; but General Pickens, whose high sense of 
honor revolted against such turpitude, even against an offi- 
cer of Dunlap's infamous character, "offered a hand- 
some reward for the murdei'ers," as General Greene sub- 
sequently testifies in a letter to the British Colonel Balfour, 


accompanied with a copy of Pickens' order proclaiming 
the reward. 

Thus wretchedly perished, at the hands of his enemies, 
Major James Dunlap. While the manner of his taking off 
is to be regretted, it must be confessed that he had little 
reason to expect better treatment. He had led a life of 
military savagery, and his "outrageous conduct" to the 
families of Clarke's and McCall's men, was perfectly in 
keeping with his previous actions, and very naturally pro- 
voked the retaliation of those whom he had so grievously 

His rank was Captain in the Queen's Rangers, and ap- 
parently Major in the special service to which he was 
assigned in Ferguson's corps. As the commission of his 
successor in the Rangers — Bennet Walpole — bore date 
March twenty-ninth, 1781, that very likely fixes the time of 
Dunlap's death. His name last appears in the Royal Army 
List, published in New York in 1781, which was probably 
issued before his death in March had been learned. Had 
he been killed in the preceding October at Gilbert Town, 
his name would doubtless have disappeared, and that of his 
successor taken its place. It is certain that Dunlap belonged 
to the Queen's Rangers, and there was no other person of 
his name and rank either in the Rangers or any other Pro- 
vincial corps ; so it is not possible that there could have 
been two Major Dunlaps killed — one at Gilbert Town, and 
the other at or near Beattie's Mill. 

'^ Maryland Journal, May ist and 8th, 1781 ; Massachusetts Spy, June 14th, 1781; Mc- 
Call's Georgia, ii, 361 ; Gordon's Am. Rev., iv, 167 ; Johnson's Life 0/ Greene, ii, 107, 135, 
195; Gibbes' Doc. History, 1781-82, 169; Greene's Greene, iii, 232; MS. pension statements 
of Absalom Thompson and Joel Darcy, 

McCall gives the date of the affair at Beattie's Mill as March 21st; but Pickens' report, 
as published by Congress, says it occurred on the 24th of that month, and his authority 
would seem to be most reliable. 

Credit is due to Charles R. Hildeburn, Esq., of Philadelphia, for the christian name of 
Major Dunlap. with the date of his commission in the Rangers, and that of his successor. 
Mr. Hildeburn has given special attention to the leaders in the Loyalist corps, and learned 
the facts in question from the rare Royal Army Lists, published in New York from 1777 to 



July— October, 1780. 

Gathering- of the King's Mountain Clans. — Williams' failure to get com- 
mand of Sumter s men — his tricky treatment of Sumter. — Fergu- 
son sends a threat to the over-mountain men. — Shelby s patriotic 
efforts to turn the scales on Ferguson. — Sevier, McDowell, Hamp- 
ton, and Campbell unite in the Enterprise — Cleveland invited to 
jointhe?n. — Sevier's success in providing Supplies for the Expedition. 
— Rendezvous at the Sycamore Shoals. — Preparations for the March. 
■ — Parson Doak commends tJie men to the protection of the Good 
Father. — Their March over the mountains. — foined by Cleveland 
and Winston. — Campbell chosen to the Chief Command. — Mc- 
Dowell's mission for a General Officer. 

Colonel Williams, as we have seen, was honored by 
Governor Rutledge, in September, with a commission of 
Brigadier-General in the South Carolina militia, in recog- 
nition of his having been, as the Govei^nor was led to 
believe, the chief commander of the Whigs at the battle of 
Musgrove's Mill. Governor Nash, of North Carolina, had 
given him permission to recruit, within that State, not to 
exceed a hundred horsemen. With his commission in his 
pocket, he at once repaired to Sumter's camp, on the 
Catawba Reservation, east of the river of that name. He 
had it publicly read, and then ordered the officers and men 
to recognize his right to command them, declaring that 
Sumter had no proper authority to do so. 

Here a serious difficulty arose. At this period, Sumter 
bore the title and performed the office of a General ; but 
he had, in fact, no commission. He had been chosen by 
his own men, who, forced to leave their homes, had banded 
together for their mutual safety, and the better, as occasion 
should offer, to strike an effective blow at an insolent enemy. 


Thus gathered together, acting pretty much on their own 
vohtion, rather than by any special authority, they chose 
Sumter their leader, which they believed they had a perfect 
right to do, as South Carolina, in its then inchoate con- 
dition, was unable to grant them any pay, or furnish them 
supplies of any kind. Governor Rutledge, for safety, had 
retired to North Carolina. 

But they had another reason why they declined to recog- 
nize Williams as their commander. They cherished'an old 
grudge against him. While Sumter was organizing his 
force, in the early summer, on Clem's Branch of Sugar 
creek, east of the Catawba, Williams and some of his 
neighbors of the Little river region, had retired to the 
northward with such of their moveable property as they 
could convey to a place of safety till more quiet times — 
probably to Granville County, North Carolina, where the 
Colonel had formerl}' lived, and where he had family 
relations still residing. On his return, he repaired to Sum- 
ter's camp, and frankl}^ confessed, as he had brought no 
men, he could claim no command ; but he, nevertheless, 
wished to serve his country in some position of usefulness. 
Colonel Hill, who knew him, suggested that General Sum- 
ter needed an efficient Commissary ; and upon mentioning 
the matter to the General, he accordingly' commissioned 
Williams to serve in that capacity. 

Major Charles Miles, with twenty-five men and four 
teams and wagons, was assigned to this service under 
Colonel Williams. So matters went along smoothly 
enough, and satisfactoriljr to all concerned, to all outward 
appearances, till after the battle of Hanging Rock, on the 
sixth of August. While Sumter was encamped on Cane 
creek, in Lancaster District, one morning, about the 
twelfth of that month, it was discovered that Williams had 
decamped, withovit dropping a hint to Sumter on the sub- 
ject, taking with him Colonel Brandon and a small party 
of followers, mostly of the Fair Forest region, together 


with a number of public horses, and considerable provisions 
and camp equipage. 

Sumter and his subordinates were not a little vexed at 
this treatment. As they regarded it, Williams had been 
not only ungrateful for the position conferred upon him, 
but had betraj'ed a public trust. Colonel Lacey, one of 
Sumter's best officers, a man of much personal prowess, 
was dispatched, with a small guard, in pursuit of the 
fugitives, with a view at least of recovering the public 
property. He overtook them encamped on the west side 
of the Catawba, but finding Williams' party too strong to 
attempt coercive measures, Lacey resorted to other means 
to accomplish his purpose. Inviting Williams to take a 
walk with him, he suddenly, when out of reach of the 
camp, presented a pistol at his breast, threatening him with 
instant death if he should make the least noise, or call for 
assistance. With his pistol still aimed, Lacey expostu- 
lated with him on the baseness of his conduct, when Wil- 
liams pledged his word and honor that he would take back 
all the public property, and as many of the men as he could 
prevail upon to return with him. Not confiding in his word, 
Lacey exacted an oath to the same purpose, with which 
Williams readily complied. But once free from restraint, 
he neither regarded the one nor the other, but retired to 
Smith's Ford, on Broad river, where he joined Colonel Mc- 
Dowell's forces, and participated, immediately thereafter, 
in the successful expedition against the enemy at Mus- 
grove's Mill. * 

During the summer, Sumter had been operating mostly 
east of the Catawba. Williams' home was considerably to 
the southwest of that stream, and he tried to justify himself, 
no doubt, by arguing that his own particular region had 
the strongest claim upon his attention, and a man who 
would not provide for his own family and people was worse 

than an infidel. However this may be, there can be no good 


* The details of this affair are taken from Colonel Wm. Hill's MS. narrative. 


excuse for his conduct. He should have sought a more 
manly and honorable way of effecting his object, as Colonel 
Clarke had done before him. ^ 

Sumter, his officers and men, were unanimous in resoh- 
ing to have nothing to do with Williams. They regarded 
his conduct in leaving the camp as he did the preceding 
month, as treacherous, and unbecoming an honorable offi- 
cer. Williams, meeting with such a reception — and he 
could hardly have expected any other — was not slow to 
take his departure. A council of the field officers of Sum- 
ter's command was soon after convened, in which it was 
judged best to make a full representation to Governor Rut- 
ledge of the condition of the brigade, and their reasons for 
refusing to accept Williams as their commander. Five 
prominent officers were accordinglj^ selected to wait upon 
the Governor, at Hillsboro, four of whom were Colonels 
Richard Winn, Henry Hampton, John Thomas, Jr., and 
Charles S. Myddelton ; Colonel Thomas Taylor was prob- 
ably the other. Meanwhile, it was agreed that Sumter 
should retire until a decision was reached and the difficulty 
settled. Colonels Lacey and Hill to command the troops 
during the interim.* 

Williams seems to have received some intimation, while 
in Sumter's camp, that his conduct would soon be properly 
represented to Governor Rutledge ; and having claimed 
more with regard to his command at Musgrove's than the 
facts would warrant, he probably deemed it best not to lay 
his new grievances before the Governor, but repair at once 
to the field, and endeavor, by brilliant service, to cause his 
past derelictions to be overlooked and forgotten. 

It is now necessary to give a succinct account of the 
circumstances which led the over-mountain men so soon 
again to re-pass the Alleghanies, and appear on their 
eastern border. Though separated by high mountains 
and broad forests from their brethren of the Carolinas, 

* Colonel Hill's RIS. narrative. 


they heartily sympathized with them, and were even 
ready to aid them in their struggles against the common 
enemy. Shelby, the McDowells and their compeers, it 
will be remembered, while retiring, in August, before 
Ferguson's pursuers, from the Musgrove's Mill expedi- 
tion, resolved that as soon as they could have a needed 
rest, and strengthen their numbers, they would re-cross the 
mountains, and ''beard the lion in his den." The summer 
heats and exposures had retarded their renewal of the 
enterprise ; their crops had doubtless demanded their at- 
tention ; and, above all, the neighboring Cherokees were 
inimical and threatening. And so they tarried, watching 
on the borders. 

But a circumstance transpired that tended to arouse 
them from their ease and sense of security. When Fer- 
guson took post at Gilbert Town, in the early part of Sep- 
tember, remembering how the mountain men had annoyed 
him and his detachments on the Pacolet, at Thicketty Fort, 
near WofFord's iron works, and at Musgrove's, he paroled 
Samuel Philips, a distant relative of Colonel Isaac Shelby, 
whom he had taken prisoner — perhaps one of the wounded 
left at Wofford's or Musgrove's, now recovered — with a 
verbal message to the officers on the Western waters of 
Watauga, Nolachuckjr, and Holston, that "if they did not 
desist from their opposition to the British arms, he would 
march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, 
and lay their country waste with fire and sword."* 

This threat accomplished more than Ferguson bargained 
for. Philips, residing near Shelby's, went directly to him 
with the message, giving him, in addition, such intelligence 
as he could impart concerning the strength, locality, and 
intentions of the enemj^. Of the Loyalists composing the 
major part of Ferguson's command, some had previously 

*Shclby'5 King's Mountain Narrative, 1823; Haywood's Hist. Tennessee. 67; Shelby's 
statement, in the American Whig Review, Dec, 1846, 580; General Joseph Graham's 
account, in the Southern Literary Messenger, September, 1845. 


been on the Western waters, and were familiar with the 
Watauga settlements, and the mountain passes by which 
they were reached. One of them had been subjected, the 
past summer, to the indignity of a coat of tar and feathers, 
by the light-horsemen of Captain Robert Sevier, on 
Nolachucky ; and, in resentment, proposed to act as 
pilot to Ferguson.* 

In a few da^'s, Shelby went some forty miles to a horse- 
race, near the present village of Jonesboro, to see Colonel 
Sevier, the efficient commander of the militia of Washing- 
ton Count}', embracing the Watauga and Nolachucky settle- 
ments, to inform him of Ferguson's threatening message, 
and concert measures for their mutual action. The result 
was that these brave leaders resolved to cany into effect the 
plan Shelby and associates had formed the previous month, 
when east of the mountains — to raise all the men they 
could, and attempt, with proper assistance, to surprise 
Ferguson by attacking him in his camp ; or, at any rate, 
before he should be prepared to meet them. If this was 
not practicable, they would unite with any corps of patriots 
they might meet, and wage war against the enemies of 
their country ; and should they fail, and the country 
eventually be over-run and subdued by the .British, they 
could take water, float down the Holston, Tennessee, Ohio, 
and Mississippi, and find a home among the Spaniards in 
Louisiana. It was known to them, that Colonel Charles 
McDowell and Colonel Andrew Hampton with about one 
hundred and sixty men, had retired before Ferguson's forces 
from Cane creek and Upper Catawba, arriving at Colonel 
John Carter's on the eighteenth of September, and 
were now refugees mostly encamped on the Watauga. f 
Some of McDowell's officers were seen and consulted by 
Shelby and Sevier before they parted. Colonel Sevier 
engaged to see others of them, and bring them all into the 

* Ramsey's Tennessee^ 223, 

f MS. letter Colonel Joseph Martin, Long Island of Holston, Sept. 22, 1780. 


measure ; while Shelby, on his part, undertook to procure 
the aid and co-operation of Colonel William Campbell, 
of the neighboring County of Washington, in Virginia, with 
a force from that region, if practicable. A time and place 
for the general rendezvous were appointed — the twent}^- 
lifth of September, at the Sycamore Flats or Shoals, on 
the Watauga. 

Colonel Shelby had necessarily much to do in getting 
his own regiment of Sullivan County men in readiness 
for the expedition. He wrote to Colonel Campbell, who 
resided forty miles distant, explaining the nature of the 
proposed service, and urging him to join in it with all the 
men he could raise for that purpose. The letter was sent 
by the Colonel's brother, Captain Moses Shelby. It was 
the plan of Lord Cornwallis to lead his army from Char- 
lotte to Salisbury, there to form a junction with Ferguson's 
corp'S ; and, preliminary to the further invasion of North 
Carolina and Virginia, to incite the Southern Indians not 
only to invade the Holston and Watauga settlements, but 
proceed, if possible, as high up in South-West Virginia as 
Chiswell's Lead Mines, and destroy the works and stores 
at that place, where large quantities of lead were pro- 
duced for the supply of the American armies. And as the 
destruction of the Mines and their product was a capital 
object with the British, the Tories high up New river, and 
in the region of the Lead Mines, had also been encouraged 
to make an attempt in that direction. Colonel Campbell 
had been diligently engaged, for several weeks, with a 
part of his regiment, in suppressing this Tory insurrection, 
and had just returned from that service when Colonel 
Shelby's letter arrived. 

Campbell replied, that he had determined to raise what 
men he could, and march down by the Flour Gap, on the 
southern borders of Virginia, to be in readiness to oppose 
Lord Cornwallis when he should advance from Chai'lotte, 
and approach that State; that he still thought this the 


better policy, and declined uniting with Sevier and 
Shelby on the proposed expedition. Colonel Shelby 
promptly notified Colonel Sevier of Campbell's determin- 
ation, and at the same time issued an order for all the 
militia of Sullivan County to hold themselves in readi- 
ness to march at the time appointed. As the Cherokee 
towns were not to exceed eighty to one hundred miles from 
the frontiers of Sullivan, and much less from the Watauga 
settlements ; and as it was known that the Cherokees were 
preparing to make a formidable attack on the border people, 
in the course of a few weeks. Colonel Shelby felt an 
unwillingness to draw off, for a distant service, all the dis- 
posable force of the counties of Sullivan and Washington 
at so critical a period, and leave hundreds of helpless 
families exposed to the tomahawk and scalping-knife. 

He, therefore, immediately wrote a second letter to 
Colonel Campbell hy the same messenger, urging his 
views more fully, and stating that without his aid, he 
and Sevier could not leave sufficient force to protect their 
frontiers, and at the same time lead forth a party strong 
enough to cope with Ferguson. About the same time 
he wrote also to Colonel Arthur Campbell, the cousin and 
brother-in-law of Colonel William Campbell, and who was 
the County Lieutenant or superior military officer of the 
County, informing him of Ferguson's progress and threats, 
and telling the touching story of McDowell's party, driven 
from their homes and families ; and appealing to the County 
Lieutenant, whether it would not be possible to make an 
effort to escort and protect the exiles on their return to their 
homes and kindred, and drive Ferguson from the country. 
Colonel Arthur Campbell had just returned from Rich- 
mond, where he had an interview with Governor Jefferson, 
and learned that vigorous efforts were being made to re- 
trieve the late misfortunes near Camden, and repel the 
advances of the enemy now flushed with victory. 

Both Colonels Arthur and William Campbell, on full 


reflection, regarded the proposed expedition with favor, and 
sent back word tliat they would co-operate with Colonels 
Shelby and Sevier to aid their friends to return to their 
homes beyond the mountains, and punish their Tory oppress- 
ors ; Colonel Arthur Campbell informing Shelby, through 
the messenger, Mr. Adair, of the Governor's sentiment, 
and the efforts that would soon be made by Congress to 
check the progress of the enemy. " The tale of McDowell's 
men,'' says Colonel Arthur Campbell, "was a doleful one, 
and tended to excite the resentment of the people, who of 
late had become inured to danger by fighting the Indians, 
and who had an utter detestation of the tyranny of the Brit- 
ish Government."* 

At a consultation of the field officers of Washington 
County, it was agreed to call out one-half of the militia, 
under Colonel William Campbell, for this over-mountain 
service. That day, the twenty-second of September, the 
order was made for the men, who seemed animated with a 
spirit of patriotism, and speedily prepared for the expedi- 
tion. An express was, at the same time, sent to Colonel 
Cleveland, of Wilkes County, North Carolina, to apprise 
him of the designs and movements of the men on the 
Western waters, and request him to meet them, with all the 
troops he could raise, at an appointed place on the east side 
of the mountains. The express doubtless took the shortest 
route, crossing New river not far from the Virginia and 
North Carolina line, and thence to Wilkes County ; and 
probably the thirtieth of September, and the Quaker 
Meadows, were the time and place of meeting. Colonel 
Campbell went to the place of rendezvous by way of 
Colonel Shelby's, while his men, who had assembled at the 
first creek below Abingdon, marched down a nearer way 
— by the Watauga road. 

The whole country was animated by the same glowing 
spirit, to do something to put down Ferguson and his Tor}'- 
gang, who threatened their leaders with the halter, and 

*MS. statement of Colonel Arthur Campbell. 


their homes with the torch. " Here," exclaimed the young 
second wife of Colonel Sevier, pointing to a youth of nearly 
sixteen, "Here, Mr. Sevier, is another of your boys who 
wants to go with his father and brother Joseph to the war ; 
but we have no horse for him, and, poor fellow, it is too 
great a distance for him to walk." Horses, indeed, were 
scarce, the Indians having stolen many of them from the 
settlers, but young James Sevier, with or without a horse, 
went on the expedition. 

Colonel Sevier endeavored to borrow money on his 
private responsibility, to fit out his men for this distant 
service — for there were a few traders in the countrj- who 
had small supplies of goods. What little money the people 
had saved, had been expended to the last dollar to the 
Entr)' Taker of Sullivan County, John Adair, the State 
officer, for the sate of the North Carolina lands — the same 
person, doubtless, whom Colonel Shelby had sent as his 
express to Colonel Arthur Campbell. Sevier waited upon 
him, and suggested that the public money in his possession 
be advanced to meet the military exigencies at this critical 
juncture. His reply was worthy of the. man and the times : 
"Colonel Sevier," said he, " I have no authority by law to 
make that disposition of this money; it belongs to the 
impoverished treasury of North Carolina, and I dare not 
appropriate a cent of it to any purpose ; but, if the country is 
over-run b}^ the British, our liberty is gone. Let the money 
go, too. Take it. If the enemy, by its use, is driven from 
the country, I can trust that country to justify and vindicate 
my conduct — so take it."* Thus between twelve and thirteen 
thousand dollars were obtained, ammunition and necessary 
equipments secured. Colonels Sevier and Shelby pledging 
themselves to see the loan refunded or legalized by an act 
of the Legislature, which they effected at the earliest prac- 
ticable moment. f 

*This sturdy patriot subsequently settled in Knox County, Tennessee, where he died 
in April. 1827, at the age of ninety-five years. 
fRamsey's Teftnessee, 226, 


5®\y; j(a)[Hiw si£^jaiE'>s. 


On Monday, the twenty-fifth of September, at the place 
of rendezvous, at the Sycamore Flats or Shoals, at the foot 
of the Yellow Mountain, on the Watauga, about three miles 
below the present village of Elizabethtown, Colonel Camp- 
bell's two hundred men assembled, together with Colonel 
Shelby's and Lieutenant-Colonel Sevier's regiments of two 
hundred and forty men each. There McDowell's party had 
been for some time in camp ; but Colonel McDowell him- 
self, as soon as the expedition had been resolved on, hurried 
with the glad news over the mountains, to encourage the 
people, obtain intelligence of Ferguson's movements, and 
hasten the march of Colonel Cleveland and the gallant men 
of Wilkes and Surry. While yet in camp, all hearts were 
gladdened by the unexpected arrival of Colonel Arthur 
Campbell, with two hundred more men from his County, 
fearing the assembled force might not be sufficient for the 
important service they had undertaken ; and uniting these 
new recruits with the others, this patriotic officer immedi- 
ately returned home to anxiously watch the frontiers of 
Holston, now so largely stripped of their natural defenders.* 

Mostly armed with the Deckardf rifle, in the use of 
which they were expert alike against Indians and beasts of 
the forest, they regarded themselves the equals of Ferguson 
and his practiced riflemen and musketeers. They were 
little encumbered with baggage — each with a blanket, a 
cup by his side, with which to quench his thirst from the 
mountain streams, and a wallet of provisions, the latter 
principally of parched corn meal, mixed, as it generally 
was, with maple sugar, making a very agreeable repast, 
and withal full of nourishment. An occasional skillet was 
taken along for a mess, in which to warm up in water their 
parched meal, and cook such wild or other meat as fortune 

-MS. statement of the King's Mountain Expedition, by one of Campbell's men — the 
writer not known— sent me by the late Governor David Campbell, of Abingdon, Virginia. 

•j- A century ago the Deckard or Dickert rifle was largely manufactured at Lancaster, 
Pennsylvania, by a person of that name. It was, for that period, a gun of remarkable pre- 
cision for a long shot, spiral grooved, with a barrel some thirty inches long, and with its 
stock some three and a half or four feet, carrying bullets varying from thirty to seventy 
to the pound of lead. The owner of a Deckard rifle at that day rejoiced in its possession. 


should throw in their way. The horses, of course, had to 
pick their living, and were hoppled out, of nights, to keep 
them from straying away. A few beeves were driven along 
the rear for subsistence, but impeding the rapidity of the 
march, they were abandoned after the first day's journey. 

Early on the twenty-sixth of September, the little army 
was ready to take up its line of march over mountains and 
through forests, and the Rev. Samuel Doak, the pioneer 
clergyman of the Watauga settlements, being present, in- 
voked, before their departure, the Divine protection and 
guidance, accompanied with a few stirring remarks befitting 
the occasion, closing with the Bible quotation, "The sword 
of the Lord and of Gideon ;" when the sturdy, Scotch- 
Irish Presbyterians around him, clothed in their tidy hunting- 
shirts, and leaning upon their rifles in an attitude of respect- 
ful attention, shouted in patriotic acclaim: "The sword 
of the Lord and of our Gideons ! " * 

Then mounting their horses, for the most of them were 
provided with hardy animals, they commenced their long 
anti difficult march. They would appear to have had some 
trouble in getting their beeves started, and probably tarried 
for their mid-day lunch, at Matthew Talbot's Mill, now 
known as Clark's Mill, on Gap creek, only three miles 
from the Sycamore Shoals. Thence up Gap creek to its 
head, when they bore somewhat to the left, crossing Little 
Doe river, reaching the noted "Resting Place," at the 
Shelving Rock, about a mile beyond the Crab Orchard, 
where, after a march of some twenty miles that day, they 
took up their camp for the night. Big Doe river, a bold 
and limpid mountain stream, flowing hard by, afforded the 
campers, their horses and beef cattle, abundance of pure 
and refreshing water. f Here, a man of the name Miller 
resided, who shod several of the horses of the party. 

*"This," writes the venerable historian, Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, "is the tradition of 
the country, and I fully believe it."— MS. letter. June 21st, 1880 

•fit is not altogether certain that the over-mountain men camped here the first night; 
but such is the tradition, and such the probabilities. If they did not, then they went on 
beyond the mountain summit, accomplishing some twenty-eight miles, which, with the 
trouble of driving cattle, would seem quite improbable. It is only by concluding that 


The next morning, Wednesday, the twentj'-seventh, 
probably weary of driving the cattle, some of which had 
stampeded, they killed such as were necessary for a tempo- 
rary supply of meat, thus considerably delaying the march 
that day. Relieved of this encumbrance, they pressed for- 
ward some four miles, when they reached the base of 
the Yellow and Roan Mountains. "The next day" 
— evidently after leaving the Sycamore Shoals, — says 
Ensign Robert Campbell's diary, "we ascended the moun- 
tain;" which they did, following the well-known Brighfs 
Trace, through a gap between the Yellow Mountain on the 
north, and Roan Mountain on the south. The ascent was 
not very difficult along a common foot-path. As they 
receded from the lovely and verdant Crab Orchard vallej^, 
"they found,'' says Campbell's diary, "the sides and top 
of the mountain covered with snow, shoe-mouth deep ; and 
on the summit," adds the same diarist, "there were about 
a hundred acres of beautiful table-land, in which a spring 
issued, ran through it, and over into the Watauga." Here 
the volunteers paraded, under their respective commanders, 
and were ordered to discharge their rifles ; and such was 
the rarity of the atmosphere, that there was little or no 
report.* This body of table-land on the summit of the 
mountain has long been known as " The Bald Place, ^'' or, 
" The Bald of the Tellowr 

An incident transpired while the troops were at " the 
Bald" that exerted no small influence on the campaign. 
Two of Sevier's men, James Crawford and Samuel Cham- 
bers, here deserted ; and when they were missed, and their 
object suspected — that of apprising Ferguson of the ap- 
proach of the mountain men — instead of bearing to the 

they camped at the celebrated "Resting Place,'' on the night of the twenty-sixth, that 
we can reconcile Campbell's diary and the traditions of the oldest and best informed 
people along the route, as to the other camping places till they reached the Catawba, on 
the night of the thirtieth, as stated by Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland, in the official 
report of the expedition, and by Shelby in his several narratives. 

*MS. letter of Dr. J. G. M, Ramsey, July 12, 1880. "This fact," adds the Doctor, 
"was related to me by several of the old King's Mountain soldiers." 


right, as they had designed, the troops took the left hand, 
or more northerly route, hoping thereby to confuse the 
enemy should they send spies on the southern trail, and 
make no discoveries.* 

After the parade and refreshments, f the day was well-nigh 
spent, and the mountaineers passed on a couple of miles de- 
scending the eastern slope of the mountains into Elk Hollow 
— a slight depression between the Yellow and Roan moun- 
tains, rather than a gap ; and here, at a fine spring flowing 
into Roaring creek, they took up their camp for the night.]; 

Descending Roaring creek, on the twenty-eighth, four 
miles, they reached its confluence with the North Toe 
river, and a mile below they passed Bright's place, now 
Avery's ; and thence down the Toe to the noted spring 
on the Davenport place, since Tate's, and now known as 
Child's place, a little distance west of the stream, where 
they probably rested at noonday. Some thirty years ago 
an old sword was found near this spring, supposed to have 
been lost by some of the mountaineers. § As they de- 
scended from the mountains, they reached a country 
covered with verdure, where they enjoyed an atmosphere 
of almost summer mildness. They followed the ravines 
along the streams the most of the way, but over a very 
rough, stony route — exceedingly difficult, and not unfre- 
quently dangerous, for horses to pursue. 

The mountain scenery along thtir route is scarcel}' ex- 
ceeded for wildness and romantic grandeur, in any other 
part of the country — several of the towering peaks, among 
the loftiest in the United States, exceeding six thousand 

* Haywood's Tennessee, on authority of Colonel Shelby, says this desertion occurred 
on "the top" of the mountain : and Robert Campbell, in his King's Mountain Narratives, 
states that the deserters "left the army on the Yellow mountain;" and Dr. Ramsey 
practically confirms these statements by asserting that it transpired on the second day. 

t Captain Christopher Taylor, of Sevier's regiment, states, in his pension deposition, 
that in a conference of the officers, held on Yellow Mountain, Colonel Campbell was ap- 
pointed to the chief command. No other account confirms this statement, and Captain 
Taylor must have had in mind the subsequent action to that effect, 

J Campbell's diary; 1\[S. correspondence of the late ex-Governor David Campbell, 
and of Hon. Wm. B. Carter, 

I MS. letter of 'W. A. McCall, Aug. is, 1880. 


five hundred feet in height. The bright, rushing waters 
tumbling over their rocky beds, and the lofty blue moun- 
tains in the distance, present a weird, dreamy, bewildering 
appearance. " Here," says a graphic writer on the mountain 
region of North Carolina, " if we were to meet an army 
with music and banners, we would hardly notice it; man, 
and all his works, and all his devices, are sinking into 
insignificance. We feel that we are approaching nearer 
and nearer to the Almighty Architect. We feel in all 
things about us the presence of the great Creator. A sense 
of awe and reverence comes over us, and we expect to find 
in this stupendous temple we are approaching, none but 
men of pure hearts and benignant minds. But, by degrees, 
as we clamber up the winding hill, the sensation of awe 
gives way — new scenes of beauty and grandeur open upon 
our ravished vision — and a multitude of emotions swell 
within our hearts. We are dazzled, bewildered, and ex- 
cited, we know not how, nor why ; our souls expand and 
swim through the immensity before and around us, and our 
being seems merged in the infinite and glorious works of 
God. This is the country of the fairies ; and here they 
have their shaded dells, their mock mountains, and their 
green valleys, thrown into ten thousand shapes of beauty. 
. But higher up are the Titan hills ; and when we get among 
them, we will find the difference between the abodes of the 
giants and their elfin neighbors." 

After a hard day's march for man and beast, they at 
length reached Cathey's, or Cathoo's, plantation — since 
Cathey's mill, at the mouth of Grassy creek, a small 
eastern tributary of North Toe river ; and here they rested 
for the night. f Some twenty miles were accomplished this 
day. Their parched corn meal, and, peradventure, some 

':* C. H. Wiley's North Carolina Reader, 68, 77. 

tCarapbcirs diary. The MS. correspondence of Thomas D. Vance. W. A. McCall, 
Hon. Wm. B. Carter, W H. Allis, G. W. Crawford, Dr. J. C. Newland, Hon. J. C. Har- 
per, Colonel Samuel McDowell Tate, Hon. C. A. Cilley, Mrs. Mary A. Chambers, Dr. J. 
G. M. Ramsey, and Major T. S. Webb, has been of essential importance in helping to de- 
termine and describe the route and its localities of the King's Mountain men. 


remaining beef rations, formed a refreshing repast, with 
appetites sharpened by the rough exercise of so tedious 
a jaunt over hills and dales, and rocks, and mountain 

On Friday, the twenty- ninth, the patriot army pursued 
its winding wa)^ up the valley of Grassy creek to its 
head, some eight or nine miles, when they passed through 
Gillespie's Gap in the Blue Ridge ; emerging from which 
they joyfully beheld, here and there, in the distance, in 
the mountain coves and rich valleys of the heads of the 
Upper Catawba, the advanced settlements of the adven- 
turous pioneers. Here the troops divided — Campbell's men, 
at least, going six or seven miles south to Henry Gillespie's, 
and a little below to Colonel William WofTord's Fort, both 
in Turkey Cove : while the others pursued the old trace in 
an easterly direction, about the same distance, to the North 
Cove, on the North Fork of the Catawba, where they 
camped for the night in the woods, on the bank of that 
stream, just above the mouth of Hunnj^cut's creek. On a 
large beech tree, at this camp, several of the officers cut 
their names,* among them Colonel Charles McDowell ; 
who had, by arrangement, several days preceded the troops 
from the camp of the Burke and Rutherford fugitives on the 

At this point Colonel McDowell rejoined his over- 
mountain friends, imparting to them such vague and un- 
certain intelligence as he had been able to learn of Fergu- 
son and his movements. Colonel McDowell had repaired 
to his Quaker Meadow home, and exerted himself, by 
sending messengers in every direction, to rouse the people ; 
he had despatched James Blair, as an express, to hasten 
forward Colonel Cleveland with the men of Wilkes and 
Surry. Blair reached Fort Defiance, a distance of some 
thirt}- miles, where he probably met Cleveland and his men 

*This venerable tree, about 1835, was accidentally charred by burning logs, in clear- 
ing land, causing it to die. W. A. McCall, who still resides there, saw the tree and read 
the names many times. 


advancing ; but he did not accomplish his mission without 
imperiUing his life, for he was wounded by a stealthy Tory 
by the way.* 

Colonel Campbell's party visited the Turkey Cove settle- 
ment, though some miles out of the way, with a view to 
gaining intelligence. Henry Gillespie, near whose cabin 
some of the troops camped, a hardy Irishman, who had 
perhaps been a dozen years in the country, and from 
whom the neighboring Gap took its name, was acting a 
neutral part in the war — probably, from his exposed situa- 
tion, as his only recourse to save himself and family from 
destruction by the Indians, instigated, as thej' were, by 
British emissaries stationed among them. Gillespie was 
kept at camp during the night ; but he really had no secrets 
to reveal and was set at liberty the following morning. f 

Ensign Campbell's diary states : "The fourth night, the 
twenty-ninth, we rested at a rich Tory's, A^'here we obtained 
an abundance of every necessary refreshment." This evi- 
dently refers to Colonel Wofford, for he was wealthy, and 
well-to-do for that day ; while his near neighbor, Gillespie, 
was poor, and his little cabin and small surrounding im- 
provements, were sufficient evidence of it. But this is a 
cruel and unjust imputation upon the memory of so worthy 
a man as William Wofford. Descended from ancestry from 
the north of England, he was born near Rock creek, in 
then Prince George, now Montgomery County, Maryland, 
about twelve miles above Washington City, on the twenty- 
fifth of October, 1728. Of his early life, we have no 
knowledge ; but he most likely served among the Mary- 
land troops in the French and Indian war raging on the 
frontiers of that and the neighboring Colonies in his 
younger days. 

Colonel Wofford was a man of enterprise, early mi- 

* Blair's MS. pension statement. 

f Henry Gillespie died at the Turkey Cove, about 1S12, at the age of well-nigh eighty 
years, leaving two sons, David and William. 


grating to the upper country of South Carolina, where, on 
Pacolet river, he erected noted iron works. He was one 
of the leading patriots of that region, and served as Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel on Williamson's Cherokee campaign of 
1776.* Early in 1779, he was in service in pursuit of the 
fugitive Tory party under Colonel John Moore, when flee- 
ing from North Carolina to Georgia ; and, in the spring 
and summer of that year, he served in Georgia and South 
Carolina, under General Lincoln,! and doubtless shared in 
the battle of Stono. 

It was probably on the fall of Charleston, when his 
iron works were destroyed, that he, to avoid the British 
and Tories who were over-running South Carolina, retired 
to the Upper Catawba, purchasing a fine tract of nine 
hundred acres, with improvements, of one Armstrong, an 
enterprising pioneer in the Turkey Cove. At his new 
home, he erected a fort for his own and neighbors' pro- 
tection against the Indians, and built a small grist-mill. It 
is barely possible that Colonel Wofford may have been 
prevailed upon by the frontier settlers of Burke county, to 
unite with Captain John Carson and others, to take pro- 
tection from Colonel Ferguson when he invaded the 
Upper Catawba valley, merely as a temporary ruse to pre- 
serve their stock and other property from those rapacious 
plunderers. But of this, there is no evidence, save tlie 
vague allusion of Ensign Campbell. At all events. Colonel 
Wofford was no Torjr, and never lifted a finger against his 
country. It is quite evident, that Colonel Campbell gained 
no important intelligence from either Colonel Wofford or 
Henry Gillespie, simpl}^ because they were not the men to 
hiu'e confided to them the secrets of the Loyalists, and con- 
sequently had nothing to impart.;]; 

^Dr. John Whelchel's MS. pension statement. 

fCapt. Matthew Patton's MS. pension statement. 

t Colonel Wofford subsequently gave much attention to the surveying of lands ; and, 
several years after the war, removed to what is now Habersham county, Georgia, where he 
became an influential citizen, and died near Toccoa Falls, about 1823, at the age of about 


The respective divisions — the one at the Turkey Cove, 
and the other at the North Cove— had marched some fifteen 
miles this day. Colonel Charles McDowell must have been 
able to inform the troops, whom he happily met at the 
North Cove, that Ferguson was yet at and near Gilbert 
Town; that Cleveland and Winston, at the head of the 
Wilkes and Surry men, were approaching in strong force ; 
and that the South Carolina parties under Lacey and 
Hill, and Williams' separate corps, were at no great dis- 
tance. That Ferguson was still reposing in fancied se- 
curity vdthin striking distance, and that strong Whig re- 
inforcements were at hand, were matters of good omen ; 
and tended, in no small degree, to encourage and inspirit 
the patriots in their combined efforts and self-denials to 
rid their suffering country of a powerful, invading foe. 

On Saturday morning, the thirtieth of the month, 
the troops at the North Cove took up their line of march, 
passing over Silver and Linville mountains, then along a 
dividing ridge, and down Paddie's creek to the Catawba. 
They probably rested at mid-day, delaying a while for the 
detachment from Turkey Cove, who had several miles 
farther to march in order to overtake them. When re- 
united, and refreshed, they pushed on, as the old trail then 
ran, from the mouth of Paddie's creek, down the north- 
west bank of the Catawba, crossing the mouth of Linville 
river,* and thence to the Quaker Meadows, the noted home 

ninety-five years, being able to read and write without spectacles to the last. General 
VVm T. Wofford. of Bartow county, Georgia, is his great grandson. 

A daughter of Colonel Wofford's was, in after years, married to David Gillespie, the old- 
est son of Henry Gillespie. David Gillespie was a youth of some fourteen years when the 
over-mountain men marched to King's Mountain. All through life he was very observant, 
and possessed a most retentive memory ; and from him these facts were derived about a 
portion of the mountaineers going to Turkey Cove, and the others to the North Cove, and 
.tbout the detention of his father in camp over night. We are indebted to Wm. A. 
McCall. of North Cove, for these traditions, which he had from his grandfather, David 
Gillespie, and to some extent, corroborated by Arthur McFall. an old hunter of the Revo- 
lutionary period, who frequently made his home with Gillespie, At the venerable age 
of about ninety-two, David Gillespie died in Turkey Cove, in 1859. 

*This fine mountain stream was named from this circumstance. In the latter part of 
the summer of 1766, William Linville, his son, and a young man, had gone from the lower 
Yadkin to this river to hunt, where they were surprised by a party of Indians, the two 


of Colonel Charles and Major Joseph McDowell. Here 
they encamped for the night, after a long and wearisome 
march, especially on the part of Campbell's corps, who had 
accomplished well-nigh thirty-one miles this day, and the 
others about twenty-three.* The McDowells did all within 
their power to render the mountaineers comfortable around 
their cheerful camp-fires — Major McDowell particularly^ 
bidding them to freely avail themselves of his dry rails 
in kindling their fires for their evening repast, and for their 
night's enjoyment.f 

Here thej^ had the joyous satisfaction of being joined 
by the troops from Wilkes and Surr}^, under the leader- 
ship of Cleveland and Winston — reported at the time, for 
effect, at eight hundred, but really numbering only three 
hundred and fifty. When the people of the Yadkin region 
heard of Ferguson's advance into Burke county, and of 
the engagement so near them, at the head of Cane creek, 
between McDowell and the British and Tory forces, it 
exerted a powerful influence in arousing them for active ser- 
vice. Some of them, under Colonel Cleveland, had been 
on the head of New river, suppressing the Tory insurrec- 
tion in that quarter ; and when they received tidings of the 
approach of the over-mountain men, they were already em- 
bodied, waiting to march at the tap of the drum — if not, 
indeed, actuall)^ at route to join their distant brethren. 
West from Wilkesboro, some eight or ten miles, they crossed 
the Yadkin at the mouth of Warrior creek ; thence bearing 
to the south-west, some eighteen or twenty miles, they 

Liiivilles killed, the other person, though badly wounded, effecting his escape. The Lin- 
villes were related to the famous Daniel noone, 

* We are indebted to Mr. McCall for the route of march of the King's Mountain men 
from the North Cove to the Quaker Meadows, derived from his grandfather, David Gilles- 
pie, Beside Mr. McCall's tradition, John Spelts and the venerable Major Samuel G. 
■ Blalock, declare that they marched by way of Quaker Meadows and Morganton, Captain A. 
Burgin and J, C. Whitson both of McDowell County, North Carolina, state, on the author- 
ity of aged people of the Upper Catawba valley, related to them many years since, that 
the over-mountain men assuredly took the route hy the Quaker Meadows on their outward 

■{"MS. notes of conversations with John Spelts, of Marshall county. Miss., in 1844, 
a venerable survivor of Major McDowell's King's Mountain men. 


reached old Fort Defiance ; and thence some eight or ten 
miles across Warrior mountain, to Crider's Fort,* where 
the village of Lenoir is now located. Here Philip Evans, 
one of the Surry men, received a severe injury by a fall 
from his horse, which rendered it necessary to leave him 
there for recovery. f 

But a worse accident befell Lieutenant Larkin Cleve- 
land, a younger brother of the Colonel. -It was some ten 
miles from Crider's Fort, crossing the Brushy mountain, to 
Lovelady's Ford of the Catawba. While crossing the river, 
Lieutenant Cleveland, with the advance, after having 
passed a narrow defile between a rocky cliff and the stream, 
w^as shot by some concealed Tories in the cliff", severely 
wounding him in the thigh. The Loyalists had learned 
of Colonel Cleveland's march, and had resolved on his 
destruction, hoping thereby to cripple the expedition and 
possibly defeat its object. Colonel Cleveland and his 
brother very much resembled each other in size and 
general appearance ; and the Tories probably mistook 
the latter for the Colonel. 

The men in the rear, on hearing the volley, rushed for- 
ward to surround ihe daring party in ambush, and, if 
possible, to effect their capture ; but the birds had flown. 
Sending the wounded Lieutenant in a canoe up the river, 
the troops forded the stream without further trouble, and ad- 
vancing half a dozen miles, passed through Morganton — or 
what was shortly after so named in honor of General Daniel 
Morgan, the hero of the Cowpens ; and, about two miles west 

*Hon. J. C. Harper, of Patterson, Caldwell County, N. C, writes; *' Fort Crider 
was situated on a small eminence within the present limits of Lenoir. It had a hill on the 
east, and another on the west. Some forty years ago, I heard old Henry Sumter relate, 
that when the fort was built, a hunter came along, and declared it was not safe, as he could 
shoot a man in it from either of the hills. On this being disputed, a coat was hung on a 
stick within the stockade, and the hunter, at the first fire, sent his ball through it from the 
top of the western hill. It was a remarkable shot for a gun of those days.'' 

■f" Evans' MS. pension statement. iMr. Evans recovered in good season to aid in 
guarding the prisoners on the return of the King's Mountain men; and to share under 
Major McDowell, in Morgan's glorious victory at the Cowpens, January 17, 1781. i^e 
was a native of Rowan County, N. C, born June 17, 1759; and died in Greenville County, 
S. C, June 19, 1849, at the age of ninety years. 


of that point, they again reached and re-crossed the Catawba, 
meeting with a joyful reception by the McDowells and the 
mountaineers at the Quaker Meadows. Here Lieutenant 
Cleveland was confided to the care of the widowed mother 
of the McDowells, who bestowed every attention upon the 
unfortunate officer. Though he in time recovered, he was 
a cripple for life.* 

Sunday morning, October the first, dawned bi-ightly 
upon the mountaineers at their camp, at the Quaker Mead- 
ows — a gratifying continuation of the fine weather that had 
enabled them so comfortably, and with such satisfactory 
progress, to pass the mountain ranges. Resuming their 
march, with a better road, they made a more rapid advance, 
passing the Pilot mountain, near the present village of Brin- 
dletown — a noted beacon for travelers, prominently discern- 
ible for many miles away. In the afternoon a rain storm 
set in, and they early encamped in a gap of the South 
mountain, near where the heads of Cane and Silver creeks 
interlock each other, and not very far trom the scene of the 
fight three weeks before, between the British and Tory 
forces and Colonel McDowell's party. This day's march 
numbered some eighteen miles. 

So wet did the next day, Monday, prove, that the army 
remained in their camp. The little disorders and irregu- 
larities which began to prevail among the troops, unaccus- 
tomed to discipline and restraint, occasioned no little un- 
easiness among the commanding officers. As if by instinct, 
the field officers of the several corps met that evening for 
consultation. Colonel McDowell, as the senior officer, pre- 
sided. It was suggested that inasmuch as the troops were 
from different States, no one properly had the right to com- 
mand the whole, and it was important that there should be 
a military head to their organization ; and, to this end, 

*MS. statement of Elijah Callaway; and MS. letters of Shadrach Franklin and Jere- 
miah Cleveland — the two latter nephews of the wounded Lieutenant. Callaway was a 
stout lad of some eleven years at that time, a resident of Wilkes county, and well 
acquainted with the Clevelands. 


that a messenger be sent to General Gates, at his head- 
quarters, wherever they might be, informing him of their 
situation, and requesting him to send forward a general offi- 
cer to take the command. This was agreed to. 

Anything looking like delay was not in accordance with 
the views of Shelby and his associate officers — expedition 
and dispatch were all-important at this critical juncture. It 
was now proposed, to meet the emergencjf, that the corps 
commanders should convene in council dailj^, to determine 
on the measures to be pursued the ensuing daj^, and appoint 
one of their number as officer of the day, to put them in 
execution, until they should otherwise determine. Colonel 
Shelby, not quite satisfied with this suggestion, observed 
that they were then within sixteen or eighteen miles of Gil- 
bert Town, where they supposed Ferguson to be, who would 
certainly attack them if strong enough to do so, or avoid 
them, if too weak, until he could collect more men, or ob- 
tain a reinforcement, with which they would not dare to cope, 
and hence it behooved them to act with decision and 
promptitude. They needed, he continued, an efficient head, 
and vigorous movements ; that all the commanding officers 
were North Carolinians, save Colonel Campbell, who was 
from Virginia ; that he knew him to be a man of good 
sense, and warmly attached to the cause of his country ; 
that he commanded the largest regiment, and closed by 
proposing to make Campbell commanding officer, until a 
general officer should arrive from head-quarters, and that 
they march immediatel}'' against the enemy. 

Colonel Campbell thereupon took Colonel Shelby aside 
and requested him to withdraw his name, and consent to 
serve himself. Shelby repHed that he was the youngest 
Colonel present — which was true ; that he had served under 
Colonel McDowell, who was too slow for such an enter- 
prise, who would naturally take offence should he be ele- 
vated to the command over him ; that while he (Shelby) 
ranked Campbell, and as the latter was the only officer from 


Virginia, if he pressed his appointment, no one would 
object. Colonel Campbell felt the force of this reasoning, 
and consented to serve. The proposition was approved and 

Shelb}^'s object in suggesting Colonel Campbell's ap- 
poinment, is best explained by himself. " I made the 
proposition," saj's Shelby in his pamphlet, in 1823, "to 
silence the expectations of Colonel McDowell to command 
us — he being the commanding officer of the district we 
were then in, and had commanded the armies of militia 
assembled in that quarter all the summer before against 
the same enemy. He was a brave and patriotic man, but 
we considered him too far advanced in life, and too inactive 
for the command of such an enterprise as we were engaged 
in. I was sure he would not serve under a 3^ounger officer 
from his own State, and hoped that his feelings would, 
in some degree, be saved by the appointment of Colonel 
Campbell." In his narrative, in the American Review^ 
December, 1848, Governor Shelby makes no reference to 
McDowell's age, but simply states, that he "was too slow 
an officer" for the enterprise. 

Though Colonel Shelby speaks of McDowell's age as 
objectionable for such a service, it really deserved little, if 
any, consideration. He was then only some thirty-seven 
years of age * — Colonel Cleveland was some years older, 
and Shelby himself, the youngest of the Colonels, was only 
seven years his junior. It may be curious to note, that 
"Old Put," then in active service, was twenty-five years 
older than McDowell, General Evan Shelby, the Colonel's 
father, who, the year before, commanded an important 
expedition against the Chicamauga Indian towns, was 

* There is much diversity in the authorities as to General IMcDowell's birth-year. 
It is assumed, in this connectinn, that he was born in 1743, as stated in Wheeler's Hist, of 
North Carolina, published while Captain Charles McDowell, a son of the General, was 
still living, and who is believed to have furnished the statement. Other accounts, of a tra- 
ditional character, place his birth, one in 1740, and another in 1742 ; while his tomb-stone, 
giving the date of his death, March 31, 1815, says he was "about seventy years of age." 
If this latter be true, then he was still younger, born about 1745. 


twenty-three years older, General Stark fifteen, Washing- 
ton eleven, Marion ten, Sumter at least four, and General 
Greene one. The real objection to Colonel McDowell was 
not so much his age, as his lack of tact and efficiency for 
such a command ; and, it has been hinted, moreover, that 
his conduct at the Cane creek aflair was not without its 
influence in producing the general distrust entertained of 
his fitness to lead the mountain men on this important ser- 
vice. The expression was quite general, that General 
Morgan or General Davidson should be sent to take the 
command ; the former, especially, who had gained such 
renown at Saratoga, and had recently joined General 
Gates, was highly esteemed by the mountaineers.* 

Colonel McDowell, who had the good of his country 
at heart more than any title to command, submitted grace- 
fully to what was done ; but observed, that as he could not 
be permitted to command, he would, if agreeable, convey 
to head-quarters the request for a general officer. This 
was warmly approved, as it was justly declared that he was 
well acquainted with the situation of the country, and could, 
better than any other, concert with General Gates a plan of 
future operations, and they would await his return. The 
manner in which this was presented gratified McDowell, 
who at once set off on his mission, leaving his men under 
the command of his brother. Major Joseph McDowell. f 
Passing through Burke county, McDowell's command, par- 
ticularly, was considerably increased]: by relatives, friends 

■•• This statement of the action of the officers in council at the South Mountain camp is 
made up largely frijm Shelby's narratives ; that in Haywood and Ramsey's Histories 0/ 
Tennessee, his pamphlet of 1823, and his Hardin account in the American Review of Decem- 
ber, 1848. The late Colonel Wm. Martin, of Tennessee, also furnished his recollections 
as derived in conversations with Colonel Cleveland. John Spelts, one of the King's 
Mountain men, related several facts connected with this council. 

f Of the result of McDowell's mission, we have no information, save that he called at 
the camp of Lacey and Hill, and their South Carolinians, and Williams and his corps, at 
Flint Hill, a dozen miles or so to the eastward of the head of Cane creek He doubtless 
visited General Gates, at Hillsboro; but as the news of the King's Mountain victory 
reached there nearly as early as Colonel McDowell, there was no occasion for any action 
in the premises. 

\ Shelby's narrative, 1823. 


and neighbors ; and there John Spelts, § or Continental 
Jack, as he was familiarly called by his associates, first 
joined Shelby's regiment, but fought under McDowell. 
Colonel Campbell now assumed the chief command ; in 
which, however, he was to be directed and regulated by the 
determination of the Colonels, who were to meet every day 
for consultation. 

Everything was now arranged quite satisfactorily to the 
Whig chiefs ; and their men were full of martial ardor, 
anxious to meet the foe, confident of their ability, with 
their unerring rifles, to overthrow Ferguson and his Loyal- 
ist followers, even were their numbers far greater than they 
were represented. 

g MS. notes of conversations with Spelts, in 1844. He was a jolly old soldier, then in 
his ninety-fourth year, and from him were derived many interesting reminiscences of the 



September— October, 1780. 

Further Gathering of the King's Mountain Men. — Williams' North 
Carolina Recruits. — Movements of Sumter's Force under Hill and 
Lacey .— Troubles with Williams. — March to Flint Hill. — The 
Mountaineers at their South Mountain Camp. — Patriotic Appeals 
of the Officers to their Men. — Resume of Ferguson's Operations in 
the Upper Catawba Valley. — Alarming Intelligettce of the Ap- 
proach of the Back Water Men. — Why Ferguson Tarried so long 
on the Frontiers. — British Scheme of Suppressing the Rebelliofi by 
the Gallows. — Ferguson Flees from Gilbert Town. — Sends Messen- 
gers for aid to Cornwallis and Cruger. — Frenzied Appeal to the 
Tories. — Ferguson's Breakfast Stolen by Saucy Whigs. — His 
Flight to Tate's Ferry. — Dispatch to Lord Cornwallis. — Takes 
Post on King' s Mountain, and Description of it. — Motives for 
Lingering there. 

It will be remembered, that Governor Nash had granted 
to Colonel Williams, a South Carolinian, the privilege of 
organizing a corps of mounted men within the North Prov- 
ince. Under this authority, he enlisted about seventy, chiefly 
while encamped at Higgin's plantation, in Rowan County. 
Colonel Brandon and Major Hammond were quite active 
in this service. The call for recruits was dated September 
twenty-third; and was headed: "A call to arms! — Beef, 
bread, and potatoes." These implied promises of good 
fare were more easily made than fulfilled — probably based 
on the fact that Governor Nash had given orders to the 
commissaries of that State to furnish the party "such sup- 
plies as may be necessary." Colonel Hill tells us, that 
these North Carolinians who enrolled under Williams, were 
men who shirked duty under their own local officers ; and 
besides the tempting offer of "beef, bread, and potatoes," 
Colonel Williams had furthermore promised what was re- 


garded as still better in the estimation of men of easy 
virtue — the privilege of plundering the Tories of South 
Carolina of "as many negroes and horses as they might 
choose to take." 

This little force, as Major Hammond states in his pen- 
sion application, constituted "the largest portion of Wil- 
liams' command at King's Mountain;" and with them the 
Colonel pushed forward some sixty or seventy miles south- 
west of Salisbury, where, after crossing the Catawba at the 
Tuckasegie Ford, on the second of October, he found 
Sumter's command under Colonels Hill and Lacey, in the 
forks of the main and south branches of that stream.* This 
part}^, to the number of about two hundred and seventy, had 
retired from South Carolina for their own safety, and to be 
in readiness to form a junction with others whenever they 
could hope thereby to render useful service to their suffer- 
ing country. Williams marched into the camp of Sumter's 
men ; and as Sumter himself, and the most of his principal 
officers were still absent — the latter, endeavoring to arrange 
with Governor Rutledge with reference to the command, 
Williams probably thought it a favorable opportunity to 
read again, as he did, his commission of Brigadier, and 
with an imperious air, commanded the officers and men to 
submit to his authority. Colonel Hill frankly told him, in 
no gingerly language, that there was not an officer nor a 
man in the whole body who would, for a moment, yield 
obedience to him ; that commissioners had been sent to the 
Governor with proofs of the baseness of his conduct, as 
they regarded it, whose return was soon expected. Evi- 
dently fearing, from what he saw around him, that he 
might be subjected to worse treatment than a mere denunci- 

*Colonel Hill's Manuscript Narrative; Major Hammond's and Andrew Floyd's pen- 
sion statements ; Colonel Williams' letter to General Gates, October 2, 1780, in the gazettes 
of the day, and Almon's Reinetiibrancer, xi, 158. 

By some unaccountable mistake, or misprint, this letter of Colonel Williams, is dated 
" Burke County ; " when all the other authorities. Hill. Floyd, Hammond and Whelchel— 
the two latter of Williams' party— combine to show, beyond a doubt, that they were at this 
time in Lincoln County, west or south-west of Tuckasegie Ford. 


ation of words, Williams thought it prudent to beat a safe 
retreat, which he did, foiTning his camp some distance 
apart from the other. 

Colonels Hill and Lacey had previously designed to 
form a junction with General Davidson, of North Carolina, 
to whom they had sent an express, who gave them, in re- 
turn, information, probably derived through a messenger from 
Colonel McDowell on his earliest return from Watauga, that 
there was, by this time, a considerable body of men from 
both sides of the mountains', marching with a view of 
measuring swords and rifles with the redoubtable Ferguson. 
With this gratifying intelligence, they crossed the Catawba 
at Beattie's Ford, and that evening received the call already 
related, from Colonel Williams. That day Colonels Gra- 
ham and Hambright had joined the South Carolinians, with 
a saiall party of some sixty men from Lincoln County. 

On that evening Colonel Hill suggested to Colonel 
Lacey, that, as they might have to encounter a superior 
force in a short time, they had better conciliate Colonel 
Williams, though his followers were but few, if they could 
do so without recognizing his right to command them. 
Lacey coincided with this view. It was therefore proposed 
that the troops should be arranged into three divisions 
— the South Carolinians proper, Graham and Hambright's 
partj% and Williams' followers, who, by this time, would 
seem to have been joined by Captain Roebuck's company — 
perhaps some twenty or thirty in number ; and choose a 
commanding officer for the whole, the orders and move- 
ments of the corps to be determined by all the officers. 
When the matter was submitted to him the next morning, 
he " spurned " the offer, as Colonel Hill informs us, renew- 
ing the intimation, that by virtue of his Brigadier's com- 
mission, he would command the whole. He was plainly 
told, that if he would not accept the honorable offer made 
him, he should absent himself, and not attempt to march 
with the South Carolina and Lincoln County men, or the 


consequences might be more serious than would be agree- 
able to him. Seeing no prospect of can-ying his point, 
Williams finally acceded to the proposition, and an officer 
was chosen to command the whole. That day the spies 
came in with the intelligence, that the mountain men were 
advancing through a valley between a large and small 
mountain — probably referring to the South Mountain, at 
the head of Cane creek. 

This party of South Carolinians and their associates 
marched through Lincoln Count}^, crossing the upper forks 
of Dutchman's creek, proceeding on to Ramsour's Mill, 
on the South Fork of Catawba ; thence bearing some- 
what south-westwardly, crossing Buffalo and First Broad 
rivers, to Flint Hill* — now sometimes known as Cherry 
Mountain, in the eastern part of Rutherford County — a 
great place of modern summer resort, where cherries in 
their season abound. f From the flinty rocks along the 
mountain sides gush many clear and cool springs, the 
heads of neighboring streams. The hill was covered with 
timber, as was doubtless the surrounding country, rendering 
the locality a most inviting camping ground. X Here, on the 
third of October, the South Carolinians, the Lincoln men, 
and Williams' party, took up their temporary quarters. On 
the day of their arrival at Flint Hill, Colonel McDowell 
called on them while on his mission to Hillsboro ; § but the 
designs of the mountain men to make a push for Ferguson 
were not fully resolved on till after the Colonel's departure. 
His intelligence, therefore, was not sufficiently decisive to 
warrant them in taking up their line of march in any direc- 
tion ; and so thej' patiently awaited further developments 
of the plans and movements of the mountaineers. 

Let us return to the mountain men whom we left in camp 

*MS. pension statements of Dr. John Whelchel, of Williams' party, and Andrew 
Floyd, of Graham's men, 

t Colonel J. R Logan's MS. correspondence, 

J MS. letter nf W. L. Twitty. 

g Shelby's narrative in A^Jcrican Review, December, 1848, 


in the gap al South Mountain, some sixteen or eighteen 
miles north of Gilbert Town. It was now supposed that 
the decisive contest between the Tories of the Western 
Carolinas and their Whig antagonists would be fought at 
that place. The officers of the mountaineers were more or 
less experienced, and felt an abiding confidence of success. 
Thinking it a good occasion, before taking up the line of 
march on the morning of October the third, to address a 
few stirring words to the patriotic army. Colonel Cleve- 
land requested the troops to form a circle, and he "would 
tell them the news," as he expressed it. Though a rough, 
uncouth frontiersman, and weighing at this time fully two 
hundred and fifty pounds, Cleveland possessed the happy 
faculty of inspiring men with much of his own indomitable 
spirit. Colonel Sevier was active in getting the men into 
form, assuring them that they would hear something that 
would interest them. Cleveland came within the circle, 
accompanied by Campbell, Shelby, Sevier, McDowell, 
Winston, and other officers ; and taking off his hat, said 
with much freedom and effect : 

'' Now, vaj brave fellows, I have come to tell you the 
news. The enemy is at hand, and we must up and at 
them. Now is the time for every man of jou to do his 
country a priceless service — such as shall lead your 
children to exult in the fact that their fathers were the 
conquerors of Ferguson. When the pinch comes, I shall 
be with you. But if any of you shrink from sharing in the 
battle and the glory, you can now have the opportunity 
of backing out, and leaving ; and j^ou shall have a few 
minutes for considering the matter." 

"Well, mjr good fellows," inquired Major McDowell, 
with a winning smile on his countenance, " what kind of a 
story will you, who back out, have to relate when you get 
home, leaving your braver comrades to fight the battle, and 
gain the victory?" 

"You have all been informed of the offer," said Shelby ; 


" you who desire to decline it, will, when the word is given, 
march three steps to the rear, and stand, prior to which a 
few more minutes will be granted you for consideration." 
At length the word was given \)j the officers to their re- 
spective commands, that "those who desired to back out 
would step three paces in the rear." Not a man accepted 
the unpatriotic privilege. A murmur of applause arose 
from the men on ever}- hand, who seemed to be proud of 
each other, that there were no slinks nor cowards among 
their nvimber. "I am heartily glad," said Shelby, "to see 
you to a man resolve to meet and fight your country's foes. 
When we encounter the enemy, don't wait for the word of 
command. Let each one of j'ou be j^our own officer, and 
do the very best you can, taking every care you can of 
yourselves, and availing yourselves of every advantage that 
chance may throw in your way. If in the woods, shelter 
yourselves, and give them Indian play ; advance from tree 
to tree, pressing the enemy and killing and disabling all 
you can. Your officers will shrink from no danger — they 
will be constantly with 3^ou, and the moment the enemy give 
way, be on the alert, and strictly obey orders." * 

These appeals to the mountain men were adroitty put, 
and had a good effect. Each soldier felt that he could im- 
plicitly rely on his fellows to stand by him to the last. The 
troops were now dismissed, with directions to be ready to 
march in three hours — and have provisions prepared for 
two meals, and placed in their knapsacks. Cleveland and 
McDowell seem to have obtained some liquor, and added 
that " when the men were ready for the march, they should 
have a 'treat.' " f They marched down Cane creek a few 
miles, making slow progress, and encamped for the night 
with the usual guards on duty. The next daj^ October the 
fourth, they renewed the march, fording and re-fording 
Cane, creek many times, as the trail then ran, and at night 

' MS. notes of conversations with John Spelts, whose memory of this gathering, and 
the remarks of Cleveland, McDowell and Shelby, was clear and vivid, 
t Spelts' recollections. 


reached the neighborhood of its mouth, in the region of 
Gilbert Town. They learned this day from Jonathan 
Hampton, that Ferguson had retreated from Gilbert Town ; 
and also received information that it was his purpose to 
evade an engagement with them.* 

In order to give a proper view of the movements of the 
opposing parties, it is now necessary to recur to Ferguson 
and his Tory followers. It will be remembered, that Fergu- 
son's troops made an excursion, during the month of Septem- 
bei', into the Upper Catawba Valley, in then Burke, now 
McDowell County ; and that several of the patriots, Captain 
John Carson among them, were prevailed on by the Whig 
leaders to take protection, simply as a 7'use by which to 
save as much of the stock of the country as possible. The 
scheme worked to a charm, not merely in benefiting the 
Whigs, but by Captain Carson's shrewd management, it 
produced, in the end, a telling effect on the few Tories of 
that region. Ferguson began to suspect that Carson and 
his friends were deceiving him, and saving more cattle than 
probably belonged to them, and resolved that he would not 
be thus foiled by such backwoods diplomacy. So he 
fitted out a party from camp to go in quest of beeves thus 
attempted to be smuggled out of harm's way, and lay in a 
good supply of meat. Carson accompanied the foraging 
expedition. A large herd was found roaming about the 
extensive cane-brakes, where David Greenlee since resided ; 
but Carson was close-mouthed about their ownership imtil 
the Tory party had slaughtered over a hundred head of fine 
young cattle, when he- quietly observed, that he expected 
that they were the propert}^ of Joseph Brown, Dement, and 
Johnstone, who had joined Ferguson, and were then in his 
camp. These men got wind of the transaction, made in- 
quiries, and ascertained that it was indeed their stock that 
had been so unceremoniously appropriated for his Majesty's 
troops. They were not a little chop-fallen and disgusted. 

*General Joseph Graham's narrative ; MS. correspondence with Jonathan Hampton, Jr. 


and the affair was soon noised abroad, and had quite a 
dispiriting effect upon the Loyalists of the country. Fer- 
guson declared that the Rebels had out witted him.* 

A little incident, worthy of relation, occurred while the 
British troops were encamped at Davidson's place, since 
Mclntyre's, two miles west of Captain Carson's. A soldier 
was tempted to kill a chicken and enjoy a savory meal, but 
he happened to be disco\'ered by Mrs. Davidson, who 
promptly reported the theft to Ferguson. The British 
commander had the culprit immediately punished, and gave 
the good lady a dollar in compensation for the loss.f This 
act was certainly creditable to Ferguson's sense of justice ; 
but it was, like an oasis in the desert, a circumstance of 
very unfrequent occurrence. 

Returning from this excursion, Ferguson and his Tory 
marauders camped a while at the White Oak Spring, near 
Brindletown. Their camp was in close proximity to the 
loftj- peak known in all that region as Pilot Mountain, almost 
isolated in the midst of a comparatively level country — 
so named, as tradition has it, from its having been the land- 
mark of the Indians in their wanderings, and the guide by 
which the Tory foraging parties, in 1780, directed their 
course when returning from their plundering expeditions. 
One of these parties captured Robert Campbell, too old for 
active service, while at breakfast, at his home on Camp 
Creek, twelve miles north-east of Rutherfordton, and con- 
veyed him to the camp at White Oak Spring. 

Reference has heretofore been made to the fight at 
Cowan's Ford, on Cane creek. One traditonj places the 

* MS. narrative of Vance and McDowell, preserved by Robert Henry. 

"I- MS. letter of Governor D. L. Swain, of Chapel Hill. North Carolina, February 8th, 
1854, to General John G. Bynum, on authority of D. M. Smith, of Asheville, North Caro- 
lina, a grandson of Mrs Davidson, communicated by Rev. W, S. Bynum, of Winston, 
North Carolina. 

t MS. correspondence of Wm. L. Twitty, who derived the tradition from Wm. Mon- 
teith. and he from Wm. Watson, a worthy Revolutionary hero who was in the fight, and 
who died in 1854, at the venerable age of ninety-five years. It may be added, in this con- 
nection, that old Wm. Marshall, in his lifetime, placed several large bloclis of granite on 
the spot where this contest is said to have taken place, to identify the locality, and com- 
memorate the occurrence. This would go to prove, that some Revolutionary event must 
have transpired at that point. 


locality of this contest some three miles above Cowan's 
Ford, at the old Marshall place, now Jonathan Walker's, on 
the west branch of that stream. One Hemphill was killed ; 
Captain Joseph White, John Criswell, and Peter Branks 
were wounded in this afi'air.* It was a sort of drawn 
battle, on a small scale, neither party caring to renew the 
conflict. Ferguson and his officers seemed to prefer camp- 
ing on or near some hill or elevation ; so while prosecuting 
their retreat, they took post on the top of a high hill at 
Samuel Andrews' place, twelve miles north of Gilbert 
Town. Here the stock, poultry, and every thing they 
could make use of, were unfeelingly appropriated ; while 
the unfortunate owner, Andrews, and his Whig neighbors, 
had fled for safety to the neighboring Cane creek moun- 
tains.! At -length the jaded troops, with their disabled 
Major, Dunlap, reached their old locality at Gilbert Town 
— the men encamping on Ferguson's Hill, while Dunlap 
was conveyed to Gilbert's residence. 

On the thirtieth of September, J little dreaming of any 
impending danger, Ferguson wa« suddenly awakened from 
his sense of security. The two Whig deserters, Crawford 
and Chambers, arrived from the camp of the mountaineers 
on the top of the Yellow Mountain, with the alarming 
intelligence of the rapid approach of "the Back Water 
men," as Ferguson termed them. He rightly judged, that 
if his threats of hanging, fire, and sword had no effect on 
them, they were coming with a full determination to fight 
him with desperation. He had furloughed many of his 
Tory followers to visit their families, under promise of 
rejoining him on short notice. Hp had been tarrying 
longer than he otherwise would, in the hope of intercepting 
Colonel Clarke, who had laid siege to Augusta, Georgia, 

* MS. pension statements of Captain James Withrow and Richard Eallew. 

■fMS. correspondence of A. B, Long and W. L. Twitty, 

JColonel Cruger's letter to Ferguson, of 3d October, 1780, refers to the latter's dis- 
patch of September 30th, with the alarming news of "so considerable a force as you under- 
stand is coming from the mountains. ■■' '■' '•'■ I don't see how you can possibly [defend] 
the country and the neighborhood you are now in. The game from the mountains is just 
what I expected." — Ramsey's Tennessee, 242. 


from the fourteenth to the sixteenth of September, and 
would have completely succeeded, had not Colonel Cruger 
arrived from Ninetj- Six with a party of relief, when Clarke 
was compelled to make his way northward, along the east- 
ern base of the mountains. 

Cruger promptly apprised Ferguson of Clarke's oper- 
ations and retirement. In the pursuit, quite a number of 
the Whigs were taken prisoners by the British and their 
Tory and Indian allies, and several were scalped. Captain 
Ashby and twelve other captives were hanged under the 
eyes of Colonel Browne, the British commandant of Au- 
gusta, who was twice disabled during the seige, and was 
smarting under the effect of his wounds ; thirteen who were 
delivered to the Cherokees were killed by the tomahawk, 
or by tortures, or thrown into fires. Thirty altogether were 
put to death by orders of the vindictive and infamous 
Browne. Lieutenant William Stevenson, one of Ferguson's 
corps, in writing from Gilbert Town, on the twenty-fifth of 
September, probably gave vent to the prevalent feelings of 
Ferguson's men when he said, referring to the pursuit and 
capture of Clarke's men : " Several of whom they imme- 
diately hanged, and have a great many moi-e yet to hang. 
We have now got a method that will soon ptU an end to the 
rebellion in a short time, by hanging every man that has 
taken -protection , and is found acting against us.*'" Hang- 
ing men ^'immediately" after the}" were made prisoners, 
plainly implies that no opportunitj^ was given to prove or 
disprove whether they had ever taken protection or not. 
But this practice of immediate hanging was simply carrying 
into effect Lord Cornwallis' inhuman orders to Cruger and 

Ferguson was quite as anxious to wa3-lay the remnant 
of Clarke's partisans as were Cruger and Browne to have 
him do so. It is not improbable, that in furloughing so 
many of his Tory recruits, as he had recently done, to visit 

* Almon's Renteiiibrancer for 1781, xi, 280-81. 


their homes, Colonel Ferguson may have had in view, that 
their scattered localities might enable them to obtain early 
notice of the approach of Clarke's fugitives, and promptly 
apprise him of it. Thus watching and delaying in order 
to entrap the Georgia patriots, proved his own speedy de- 
struction. When the two deserters from Sevier's regiment 
brought him intelligence of his threatened danger from the 
mountaineers, he was not slow to realize his situation. He 
sent out expresses in all directions, strongly appealing to* 
the Roj^alists to hasten to his standard with all possible ex- 
pedition, and to render him every assistance in their power 
in this critical emergency. 

He evidently had a triple object in view by taking this 
circuitous course. He hoped still, peradventure, to inter- 
cept Clarke 5 he anxiouly desired to strengthen his own 
force by re-inforcements, and to collect on his route his fur- 
loughed South Carolina Loyalists, and prevent their being 
cut up in detail ; and he attempted, moreover, to play off a 
piece of strategy, which, if successful, would relieve him 
of the danger of too close a proximity to these swarming 
mountaineers — by misleading them as to the objective point 
of his retreat, and thus indulging the hope that they might 
make a dash, by the nearest route, to intercept him before 
his expected arrival at Ninety Six. Had Ferguson, with 
his three or four days' start, taken the most direct easterly 
course to Charlotte, he could easily have accomplished his 
purpose, as it was only some sixty miles distant in a straight 
line, and could not have exceeded eighty by the then zig-zag 
routes of travel. 

Leaving Gilbert Town on the twenty-seventh of 
September, Ferguson moved to the Green river region 
in quest of Clarke. Three days later, while in camp 
at James Step's place, receiving the alarming intelli- 
gence of the rapid approach of the Back Water men, in 
strong force, he promptly notified X,ord Cornwallis of his 
danger, and of the consequent necessity of his hastening 


towards his Lordship's head-quarters ; and probably hinting 
that a re-inforcement or escort adequate to the occasion, 
would prove a most opportune occurrence. This dispatch 
was confided to Abram Collins and Peter Quinn, who 
resided on the borders of the two Carolinas, and were well 
acquainted with the route. His injunctions to them were to 
make the utmost expedition, and deliver the letter as soon 
as possible. They took the most direct course, crossing 
• Second Broad river at Webb's Ford ; thence by way of 
what is now Mooresboro to First Broad river at Stice's 
Shoal ; and thence on to Collins' Mill on Buffalo, when 
they bore south-east to King's Mountain. Proceeding on 
to Alexander Henry's, a good Whig, they disguised their 
true character and mission, and there obtained refresh- 
ments. Immediately renewing their journej^, with undue 
haste, excited the suspicions of Mr. Henry's family, that 
the}^ were engaged in some mischief boding no good to the 
public welfare. Mr. Henry's sons, inspired by a patriotic 
feeling, proposed to follow and apprehend them ; and pur- 
sued so closely on their trail, that the miscreants got wind 
of it in the vicinity of the present Bethel Presbyterian 
Church, and secreted themselves by day, and traveled 
stealthily by night, crossing the Catawba at Mason's Ferrjr. 
Thus was the dispatch delayed, so that it did not reach 
Cornwallis till the morning of the seventh of October — the 
day of Ferguson's final overthrow.* These details are 
interesting as showing the cause of Cornwallis' failure to 
re-inforce Ferguson in his time of peril and need. 

In addition to this dispatch to Lord Cornwallis for suc- 
cor, Ferguson also wrote on the thirtieth of September to 

* General Joseph Graham's King's Mountain narrative gives this statement in brief; 
many of the particulars were furnished for this work by Colonel J. R. Logan, of Cleveland 
County. North Carolina, "Collins," adds Colonel Logan, " after the war, entered very valu- 
able lands on Buffalo Creek in this County. He w.ns often in jeopardy on account of his noto- 
rious counterfeiting practices, and frequently in jail ; but always had friends enough to 
help bim out. He died in poverty near Stice's Shoal on First Broad river. Peter Quinn 
led a worthier life, and became the progenitor of very numerous descendants — some of 
them, in this County, and in the West, highly respectable people." 


Colonel Cruger, commanding at Ninety Six, calling for a 
large militia re-inforcement — how large is not stated, but 
several regiments ; when Cruger replied that there were onl y 
half that number* all told. And as a rtise^ Ferguson gave 
out word, that he was going to Ninety Six, and to give coun- 
tenance to the deception, started in that direction, making 
quite a detour southwardly from a direct course to Charlotte. 
The fond hope of capturing Clarke and his intrepid fol- 
owers was, it would seem, almost an infatuation with 
Ferguson. He could not bear the thought of leaving the 
country without accomplishing this important object, if it 
were possible to do so. He had his scouts out in the direc- 
tion of the mountains, and was vigilant in seeking information 
from the quarter where Clarke was supposed to be directing 
his course. On Sunday, the fii'st of October, while beating 
about the country, he visited Baylis Earle's, on North 
Pacolet, a dozen miles south-west of Denard's Ford. 
Captain William Green and his company made up a part of 
this force ; and while at Earle's, they killed a steer, 
destroyed four or five hundred dozen sheaves of oats, and 
plundered at their pleasure, f They then marched to 
Denard's Ford, J making their camp there for the night. 
While at this Ford, the old crossing of Broad river, half a 
mile below the present Twitty's Ford, and some eight miles 
from Gilbert Town, Ferguson issued the following energetic 
appeal — apparently almost a wail of despair — addressed 
" to the inhabitants of North Cai"olina," and, doubtless, 
similar ones to the Loyalists of South Carolina also : 

* Ramsey's Tennessee, 242. 

-{-MS. letter of Baylis Earle, September nth, 1814, to Major John Lewis and Jonathan 
Hampton, communicated by Hon. W. P. Eynum. 

}MS. letters of Hon. W.J. T. Miller, Dr. J. B. Twitty, W, L. Twitty, A. D. K. Miller, 
and Colonel J. R. Logan fix the locality of Denard's Ford as near \.\\^ present Twitty's 
Ford ; and the venerable Samuel Twitty, a colored man, now eighty-six years old, and 
raised in that neighborhood', says the old ford, half a mile below the present Twitty's 
Ford and under a large oak tree that long stood there, was often pointed out to him in his 
boyhood as Ferguson's crossing place. The MS. McDowell-Vance narrative says Ferguson 
crossed at Twitty's Ford, which practically confirms these traditions. The Virginia 
Gazette and the old land records of Rutherford County determine the orthography of the 
name Denard, instead of Donard, as Wheeler has it in his History 0/ North Carolina. 
Allaire's Diary also confirms this mode of spelling the name. 


" Denard's Ford, Broad River, 

Tryon County, October i, 1780. 

"Gentlemen: — Unless you wish to be eat up by an in- 
undation of barbarians, who havfe begun by murdering an 
unarmed son before the aged father, and afterwards lopped 
oft" his arms, and who by their shocking cruelties and irregu- 
larities, give the best proof of their cowardice and want of 
discipline; I say, if you wish to be pinioned, robbed, and 
murdered, and see your wives and daughters, in four days, 
abused by the dregs of mankind — in short, if you wish or 
deserve to live, and bear the name of men, grasp your 
arms in a moment and run to camp. 

"The Back Water men have crossed the mountains; 
McDowell, Hampton, Shelby, and Cleveland are at their 
head, so that you know what you have to depend upon. 
If you choose to be degraded forever and ever by a 
set of mongrels, say so at once, and let your women turn 
their backs upon you, and look out for real men to protect 

"Pat. Ferguson, Major yist Regiment.'" * 

An amusing incident occurred in this neighborhood. The 
British had captured Andrew Miller, and were conveying 
him along with them. Lewis Musick, who had just returned 
from the unfortunate attack on Augusta, joined Anthony 
Twitty, an elder brother of the William Twitty who con- 
ducted himself so bravely in the defence of Graham's Fort, 
as formerly related; and being well mounted, they conclu- 
ded to take a scout, and see what discoveries they could 
make. Coming to the main road, it seemed to them as 
though the whole line of travel for more than a mile was 
alive with Red Coats, Ferguson and his dragoons among 

^'''Virginia Gazette, November u, 1780; Wheeler's North Carolina, '\^,\o^\ Ramsey's 
Tennessee, 233. It is exceedingly doubtful if any such barbarities were perpetrated upon 
the Tories as Ferguson's proclamation asserts. It must have been a figment of the imagi- 
nation, invented for effect. 


them. The Whig scouts had a good view of them, and as 
they passed David Miller's place, one of the enemy and a 
negro remained behind, the latter going to the spring 
to catch his horse. The soldier — or Red Coat, as 
Twitty preferred to call him — proved to be Ferguson's 
cook ; and, it seems, was completing the preparation of 
a savory meal, to take along for the Colonel's breakfast, 
who had been too busy in getting his troops started to enjoy 
his morning's repast. Twittj^ and Musick retired behind a 
field, where they hitched their horses in some bushes, de- 
termined to get ahead of the two loiterers and capture them. 
Beside the road, there was a , fallen tree, the top of which 
was yet thickly covered with leaves, where they secreted 
themselves, awaiting the advance of the supposed officer 
and his servant. The negro, in about fifteen minutes, came 
dashing along some fifty yards in front. Twitty was to 
rush out and take the negro, while Musick was to prevent 
the Red Coat in the rear from shooting him ; and the colored 
fellow was seized so suddenly that he made no defence. 
Musick demanded the Red Coat to surrender, who seeming 
unwilling to do so, Twitty leveled his gun at him, with a 
severe threat if he did not instantly obey. At this moment 
the negro put spurs to his horse and escaped. 

But the white captive was dismounted, and hurried off 
half a mile or more, and talking loudly by the way, as if to 
attract *he attention of pursuers, he was plainly admonished 
that another utterance would forfeit his life. After that, he 
was quiet enough. Once out of danger of being overtaken, 
the Whig scouts examined their prisoner, and ascertained 
that he was Ferguson's cook — not so much of a dignitary, 
after all, as they had supposed, and learned that Ferguson 
was then on the lookout to intercept Colonel Clarke and his 
men on their retreat from Augusta. Twitty and his com- 
panion paroled the soldier-cook, retaining the captured meal, 
which they appropriated to their own use, and Ferguson lost 
his breakfast. 


Before releasing their prisoner, however, the Whig 
scouts found means to pen a liurried note to Ferguson, in- 
forming him, that when they ascertained that the person 
they had taken was his cook, they concluded that the British 
commander could not well dispense with so important a 
personage, and he accordingly sent him back, trusting 
that he would restore him to his butlership. Overtaking 
the Colonel, the cook delivered the note, cursing his eyes 
if he had not been taken prisoner by a couple of Rebel 
buggers, as he termed them, and proceeded to curse and 
denounce them at a terrible rate. Ferguson quietly re- 
strained his temper, and told him he was wrong to speak of 
them so harshly, as they had used him well, and permitted 
him to return after a ver}^ brief captivity. Thus Andrew 
Miller, who was present, subsequently reported the inter- 

From Denard's Ford, Ferguson and his troops, accord- 
ing to Allaii-e's Diary, marched on Monday afternoon, the 
second, only four miles, where they formed a line of 
action, and lay on their arms all night. But the enemy they 
so confidently expected, did not make their appearance. 
Much precious time was thus spent to no purpose. All 
this, under ordinary circumstances, would indicate in- 
decision ; but the British commander, it seems, still lingered, 
hoping to intercept Clarke and his Georgia patriots, and 
delayed for the return of his men whom he had furlOughed 
to visit their families, and the hoped-for militia from the 
region of Ninety Six, and, after crossing Broad river at 
Denard's, purposely bore off to the left, instead of continu- 
ing on the direct road south to Green river en route for 
either Cowpens or Ninety Six, hoping thereby to elude the 
vigilance of the Back Water men. 

* MS. narrative of Anthony Twitty, written in September, 1832 ; MS. letters of Drs. T. 
B. and W. L. Twitty, on authority of Mrs. Jane Toms and others. Twitty was born in 
Chester County, Pennsylvania, November 29th, 1745, and was much" engaged ir scouting 
service during the Revolution. Judge W. P. Bynum, of Charlotte, North Carolina, kindly 
communicated Twitty's MS. narrative. 


It is possible, moreover, that Ferguson might have felt the 
necessity of feeling his way cautiously out of his difficulties ; 
that while evading the mountaineers on the one hand, he 
should not run recklessly into other dangers, it might be 
equally as formidable ; for Lord Cornwallis had, on the 
twenty-third of September, apprised him that Colonel 
Davie's party of Whig cavalry had marched against him, 
which Ferguson's apprehensions, and Tory fears, may have 
magnified into a much larger body than eighty dragoons. 
Nothing, however, was gained by these tardy operations ; 
and, in these fruitless efforts at strategy, Ferguson, had he 
realized it, might have exclaimed, with the Roman digni- 
tary, "I have lost a day!" For he could have marched 
from Denard's Ford to the neighborhood north of Cowpens 
from sunrise to sunset, instead of consuming two days in its 

Allaire's Diary informs us, that on the third, Ferguson 
marched six miles to Camp's Ford of Second Broad river, 
thence six farther to Armstrong's, on Sandy Run, where the 
troops refreshed; then, as they reckoned distance, pushed 
on seven miles to Buffalo creek, a mile bej'ond which they 
reached Tate's plantation — making twenty miles this day, 
the route being north of main Broad river. At Tate's, 
Ferguson tarried two full days, probably awaiting in- 
telligence as to the movements of the Whigs, which he 
doubtless received on the evening of the fifth, for the army 
renewed its march at four o'clock on Friday morning, the 
sixth. During this day Colonel Ferguson sent the following 
dispatch to Lord Cornwallis, without date ; but the con- 
necting facts fix the time as here indicated : 

"My Lord : — A doubt does not remain with regard to 
the intelligence T sent your Lordship. They are since 
joined by Clarke and Sumter * — of course are become an 

* A small squad of Clarke's men did, about this time, join the mountain men; and Sum- 
ter's force, under Colonel Lacey. soon after effected a junction. Ferguson, probably from 
his spies and scouts, learned of these parties and their intentions. 


object of some consequence. Happil}-- their leaders are 
obliged to feed their followers wilh such hopes, and so to 
flatter them with accounts of our weakness and fear, that, 
if necessary, I should hope for success against them mjself ; 
but numbers compared, that must be but doubtful. 

"I am on mj' march towards 3'ou, by a road leading 
from Cherokee Ford, north of King's Mountain. Three 
or four hundred good soldiers, part dragoons, would finish 
the business. Something must be done soon. This is their 
last push in this quarter, etc. 

"Patrick Ferguson."* 

It is evident from this dispatch, that Ferguson, when 
penning it, had no other design than to march resolutely 
forward and join his Lordship at Charlotte. Had he then 
in contemplation the taking post on King's Mountain, and 
there awaiting succor, and there deciding the mastery with 
his tireless pursuers, he would likel}' have indicated it in 
his letter. So he simply said : "I am on my march towards 
you, by a road leading north of King's Mountain;" and, 
at the same time, tacitly plead for a re-inforcement, appar- 
ently aware by this time, that though he had succeeded in 
his strategic effort to throw the Back Water men off his 
trail, the}^ were yet doggedly pursuing him. 

Lieutenant Allaire says it was sixteen miles from Tate's 
place to "Little King's Mountain." Ferguson marched 
up the old Cherokee Ferry road, between the waters of 
Buffalo and King's creeks, crossing the western branch of 
this latter stream where Whisnant's mill is now situated ; 
thence on the old Qtiarryroad to main King's creek; and 
soon after crossing which, he bore off to King's Mountain. 
Or, as Reverend Robert Lathan describes it, Ferguson 
"pushed on up the ridge road between King's and Buffalo 
creeks, until he came to the forks, near Whitaker's Station, 
on the present Air-Line railroad. There he took the right 
prong, leading across King's creek, thr.ough a pass in the 

*Almon's Rejitembrancer ior 1781, xi, 280; Tarleton's Cainpaigvs, quarto edition, 193. 


mountain, and on in the direction of Yorkville. Here, a short 
distance after crossing the creek, on the right of the road, 
about two hundred and fifty yards from the pass,"* he came 
to King's Mountain. Ferguson's dispatch to Cornwallis, 
ah-eady cited, and written during the day before the battle, 
shows conclusively, that this mountain bore its prefix of 
"King's" at that time,f and that its subsequent occupancy 
by the King's troops had nothing to do in giving to it this 

That portion of it where the action was fought, has little 
or no claim to the distinction of a mountain. The King's 
Mountain range is about sixteen miles in length, extending 
generally from the north-east, in North Carolina, in a south- 
westerly course, sending out lateral spurs in various direc- 
tions. The principal elevation in this range, a sort of lofty, 
rocky tower, called The Pinnacle, is some six miles dis- 
tant from the battle ground. That portion of the oblong 
hill or stony ridge, now historically famous, is in York 
County, Sovith Carolina, about a mile and a half south of 
the North Carolina line. It is some six hundred yards long, 
and about two hundred and fifty from one base across to the 
other ; or from sixt}' to one hundred and twenty wide on 
the top, tapering to the South — "so narrow," says Mills' 
Statistics, "that a man standing on it may be shot from 
either side." Its summit was some sixty feet above the 
level of the surrounding country. 

Ferguson's obsei'ving eye was attracted to this com- 
manding eminence ; and regarding it as a fit camping 
place, he concluded to tarry there. This was on the even- 
ing of the sixth of October. He apparently awaited the 
expected return of furloughed parties of Loyalists under 
Major Gibbs and others ; and he fondly hoped, too, to be 
soon re-inforced by Tarleton, and the militia from the dis- 

* Pamphlet Historical Sketch of the Battle of Kings Mountain, Yorkville, South 
Carolina, 1880. 

f '* It took its name " says Moultrie's Memoirs. " from one King, who lived at the foof 
of the mount with his family." The name of King's Creek had also the same origin. 


trict of Ninety Six. Rejoined by his Loyalist forces, and 
strengthened by re-inforcements, he no doubt flattered 
himself with gaining a crushing victory over the Back 
Water men, whom he never failed to belittle, and whom 
he heartily despised. He had for months untiringlj- 
drilled the men under his banner ; his detachments under 
Patrick Moore, Innes and Dunlap, had met with 
repeated disasters, which he anxiously desired a suit- 
able opportunit)- to retrieve before joining his Lordship 
at Charlotte. He prided himself in his skill in the use of 
fire-arms, and his success in inspiring others with something 
of his own feelings of invincibility ; and, above all things, 
he coveted a fitting occasion to put to the test his long and 
patiently drilled Loyalists, as soon as he could do so with 
a reasonable hope of success. This hope he saw in 
the expected "three or four hundred good soldiers — part 
dragoons" — hinting, doubtless, at Tarleton's Legion cav- 
alry, even if the expected militia should fail him ; when he 
could, in his own estimation, do up the business for the 
daring Back Water men, and extricate himself from his 
impending danger. Cherishing such hopes, he thought it 
unwise to retire too precipitately to Charlotte. Such a 
retreat might betray signs of fear — suggesting, perhaps, 
that he shirked the opportunity he had long pretended to 
court, and he might thereby lose the chance of a life-time 
of distinguishing himself on the glorious field of Mars, and 
winning undying honors and fame from his King and 
country. These visions of glory were too tempting, and he 
yielded to their seductive influences. "The situation of 
King's Mountain," said Arthur McFall, one of his Loyalist 
followers, "was so pleasing that he concluded to take post 
there, stoutly affirming that he would be able to destroy or 
capture any force the Whigs could bring against him."* "So 
confident," says Shelby, " was Ferguson in the strength of 
his position, that he declared that the Almighty could not 

"MS. letter of Wm. A. McCall, to whom McFall made the statement. 


drive him from it." * The McDowell-Vance narrative 
states, that Ferguson declared, that "he was on King's 
Mountain, that he was king of that mountain, and God 
Almighty could not drive him from it." This impious 
boast was doubtless made to encourage his confiding fol- 

There was a spring on the north-west side of the moun- 
tain, one of the sources of Clai^k's Fork of Bullock's creek, 
from which a needful supply of water could be obtained, 
though not verjr convenient ; but the countrjr, wild as it 
then was, was unable to furnish anything like the necessary 
amount of provisions requisite for such a body of men. It 
was a stony spot, where lines could not easil}' be thrown 
up ; there was, however, an abundance of wood on the hill 
with which to form abatis, and defend his camp ; but Fergu- 
son took none of these ordinary military precautions, and 
only placed his baggage-wagons along the north-eastern 
part of the mountain, in the neighborhood of his head- 
quarters, so as to form some slight appearance of protection. 
And thus he remained nearly a whole day, and as Mills 
states, "inactive and exposed," f awaiting the return of his 
furloughed men, and the expected succors ; but these anx- 

-*Shelby's narrative in American Review, December 1848, corroborated by Todd's mem- 
oir of Shelby ; Colonel Hill's MS. statement; MS. notes of conversations with James 
Sevier and John Spelts, both King's Mountain men and General Lenoir's narrative. 

Since this chapter was put in type, George H. Moore, LL, D., of the Lenox Library, has 
called the author's attention to, and kindly loaned him a copy of a rare, if not hitherto un- 
known pamphlet. Btograpliical Sketch, or ]\Iemoir of Lietiienant Colonel Patrick Ferguson, 
by Adam Ferguson, LL. D., Edinburgh. 1817, in which this paragraph, relative to Colonel 
Ferguson's retreat occurs : " He dispatched a messenger to Lord Cornwallis, to inform his 
Lordship of what had passed, — of the enemies he had to deal with, — of the route he had 
taken to avoid them ; earnestly expressing his wish, that he might be enabled to cover a 
country in which there were so many well affected inhabitants ; adding that for this purpose, 
he should halt at King's Mountain, hoping that he might be there supported by a detach- 
ment from his Lordship, and saved the necessity of any further retreat. This letter having 
been intercepted, gave notice to the enemy of the place where Ferguson was to be found : 
and though a duplicate sent on the following day was received by Lord Cornwallis, it came 
too late to prevent the disaster which followed." 

If such a dispatch was sent to Lord Cornwallis, it must have been written after 
Ferguson had arrived at King's Mountain, and concluded to take post there. Certajn it is, 
that Ferguson sent several dispatches to Lord Cornwallis after he commenced his retreat 
from Gilbert Town, the burthen of which evidently was to express his great anxiety for a 

T Statistics of South Carolina, 1826, p. 778. 


ious hopes were doomed to bitter disappointment. Instead 
of the coveted re-inforcements, as the sequel will show, came 
the haled Back Water men, worse, if possible, than were 
the Mecklenburg hornets to Cornwallis and his army. 

His infatuation for military glory is the only explanation 
that can be given for Ferguson's conduct in lingering at 
King's Mountain. When he left Green river, he knew 
full well that the mountaineers, in strong force, were press- 
ing hard upon him, and he marched towards Charlotte, 
but not expeditiously. He knew, too, that the Back 
Water men had, by their various unions, become " of some 
consequence," as he frankly admitted in his dispatch to 
Lord Cornwallis. Concluding, therefore, that "something 
must be done," as he expressed it, to check the onward 
progress of the mountain men — that this was "their last 
push in this quarter," he was not slow in properly esti- 
mating the strength and prowess of his enemy ; and 
keenly realized his pressing need for "three or four 
hundred good soldiers," if he hoped to meet and van- 
quish the coming horde of Back Water "barbarians.'' 
The possible failure of his Lordship to receive his dis- 
patches, seems not to have entered into Ferguson's calcula- 
tions ; and he did not fully realize the dangers besetting 
him — the meshes with which the patriots were preparing to 
entrap him. He knew, indeed, that " the Campbells were 
coming ;" but the haughty Scotsman relied this time too 
much on the pluck and luck which had hitherto attended 
him. In his own expressive language, a direful " inunda- 
tion " was impending. [Unprepared, as he was, to meet it, 
ordinary military prudence would have dictated that he 
should make good his retreat to Charlotte without a mo- 
ment's delay. Within some thirty-five miles of his Lord- 
ship's camp, he could easily have accomplished the dis- 
tance in^a few hours ; yet he lingered two days at Tate's, 
and one on King's Mountain, deluded with the hope of 
o-aining undying laurels, when Fate, the fickle goddess, had 
only in store for him defeat, disaster, and death. 



October, 1780. 

Uncertainty of Ferguson's Route of Retreat.— A small Party of Georgians 
join the Mountain Men. — Whig forces over-estimated. — Report of a 
patriot Spy from Ferguson's Camp.— Williams attempt to Mislead 
the Mountaineers.— Lacey sets them Right.— The South Carolinians' 
treatment of Williams. — Selecting the fittest Men at Green river to 
pursue Ferguson.— Arrival at the Cowpens. — The Tory, Saunders 
— his ignorance of Ferguson, his Beeves and his Corn. — Story of 
Kerr, the cripple Spy. — Gilmer, the cunning Scout, duping the 
Tories. — The Cowpens Council, ficrther selection of Pursuers, and 
their Nimiber. — Night March to Cherokee Ford. — Straying of Camp- 
bell's Men. — Groundless Fears of an Ambuscade. — Crossing of 
Broad river. — Stormy Time. — Jaded Condition of Men and Horses. 
— Tory Information. — Gilmer's Adventures.- — Plan of Attac/cijig 
Ferguson. — Colonel Graham Retires. — Chrotiicle assigned Comma?id 
of the Lincoln Men. — Young Ponder Taken. — Ferguson s Dress. — 
Pressing towards the Enemy s Camp. 

Leaving Ferguson, for the time being, at his chosen 
position on King's Mountain, we will return to the moun- 
taineers, whom we left encamped, on the night of the fourth 
of October, near the mouth of Cane creek, in the neighbor- 
hood of Gilbert Town. The game they had been seeking 
had fled. It was generally reported that Ferguson had 
gone some fifty or sixty miles southwardly, and later assur- 
ances from two men, represented that he had directed his 
course to Ninetj^ Six, well-nigh a hundred miles away.* 
The defences of that fort had been recently repaired and 
strengthened, f and it was strongly garrisoned, it was said, 
with four hundred regulars and some militia. The proba- 
bility was that it would resist an assault by small arms, and 

* Moore's Life of Lacey, t6, 

t Tarleton's Campaigns, 169, 183. 


the mountaineers had none others ; but they were not to be 
thwarted in their purpose, for they had made many a sacri- 
fice of personal comfort, and had traveled many a weary 
mile, in order to vanquish, if possible, the great Tory 
leader of the South. They, however, learned Ferguson's 
real strength, and were determined to pursue him to Ninety 
Six, or wherever else he might see fit to go. Here, before 
renewing their march, the mountain men killed some beeves 
for a supply of fresh food. 

While Colonel Clarke, of Georgia, and his followers, 
were retreating from that unhappy country, with their fami- 
lies, and were aiming to cross the mountains to the friendly 
Nolachucky settlements, they were met by Captain Edward 
Hampton, who informed them that Campbell, Shelby, 
Se\'ier, and McDowell were collecting a force with which 
to attack Ferguson. Major William Candler and Captain 
Johnston, of Clarke's party, filed oft' with thirty men and 
formed a junction with the mountaineers, near Gilbert 
Town.* Not very long thereafter, at what was called 
Probit's place, on Broad river, Major Chronicle, with a party 
of twenty men from the South Fork of Catawba, joined the 
mountain men.f Every such addition to their numbers was 
hailed with delight ; and the whole force was, for purposes 
of policy, greatly exaggerated by the leaders, to inspire both 
their own men and the enemy with the idea of their great 
strength and invincibility.]; 

*McCalI's History of Georgia, ii, 336. McCall mistakes in stating that Colonel Clarke 
and his Georgia fugitives retired to Kentucky for the safety of their families. That is of 
itself improbable; but a MS. letter of Clarke to General Sumter, of October sgth, 1780, 
asserts that it was to the Nolachucky settlement they repaired. 

fVanceMcDowell narrative, and MS. letter of R. C. Gillam, of Asheville, North 
Carolina, to Dr. J. H. Logan, communicating an interview with the venerable Robert 
Henry, one of Chronicle's men. 

X MS. statement of General Joseph McDowell and Colonel David Vance, preserved by 
the late Hon. Robert Henry, of Buncombe county. North Carolina. 

Supposing the numbers reported correctly, the whole force assembled for the King's 
Mountain expedition did not exceed eighteen hundred and forty men, viz : Campbell's 
force, 400; Shelby's, 240; Sevier's, 240; McDowell's, 160, increased in Burke to probably 
180: Cleveland and Winston's, 350; Candler's, 30; Lacey's. 270; Williams', 70; and Ham- 
bright's, including Chronicle's, 60. Yet they were represented as numbering three thou- 
sand by Major Tate, who was in the action. See General Davidson's letter, October loth, 


Pursuing the same route Ferguson had taken, they 
passed over Mountain creek and Broad river, at Denard's 
Ford, when they seem to have lost the trail of the fugitives, 
whose place of detour to the left the}^ did not happen to 
discover. They constantly sent out scouts, lest any parties 
of Tories might be roving through the country, and take 
them unawares. John Martin and Thomas Lankford, of 
Captain Joseph Cloud's companjr, of Cleveland's regiment, 
while out spjnng, were waylaid near Broad river, by a 
party in ambush, who fired at them, severely wounding 
Martin in the head. Lankford escaped unhurt. The Tories 
captured their horses and Martin's gun, leaving Martin for 
dead. At length recovering his senses, the wounded soldier 
managed to reach the camp of his friends. The shot had 
fortunately been broken of their force by his hat, and only 
penetrated through the skin of his temples, and John Death- 
eridge succeeded in picking them all out of the wound. 
Unfit for further service at that time, Martin was conveyed 

1780, Gordon's ^?«^r/cfl« IF^i?- says, they "amounted to near three thousand; " and this 
was copied into the first edition of Marshall's Li/e of Washington. In Steadman's Ameri- 
can War, the number is given as " upward of three thousand." Governor Shelby, in his 
American Review narrative, states that "a Whig prisoner taken by Lord Cornwallis repre- 
sented to him that the patriot force numbered three thousand riflemen ; " and other reports 
to the British at this period made the number still larger. Judge Johnson, in his Li/e of 
Greene, has magnified it to "near six thousand." 

There is, after all. some reason to suppose that the Whig force was over-estimated in 
the official report of Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland. Campbell's regiment, according to 
Ensign Robert Campbell, oneof the officers of that corps, amounted to "near four hun- 
dred," and Shelby's and Sevier's together to only three hundred. The M S. account hereto- 
fore cited, written by one of Campbell's men, whose name is unknown, states that Shelby 
and Sevier's united force numbered three hundred and fifty, and McDowell's one hundred 
and fifty; that Williams', the South Carolinians, and the few Georgia troops, amounted to 
about three hundred and fifty; placing Campbell's at four hundred and fifty, and Cleve- 
land and Win.ston's at four hundred— making a total of sixteen hundred. Colonel Arthur 
Campbell's manuscript only gives the number of McDowell's party at one hundred and 
fifty. In Shelby's narrative, in the American Revieiv, it is stated that the Williams party 
numbered " from two to three hundred refugees" which, united with the others, " made a 
muster-roll of about sixteen hundred." It was. perhaps, this total number that Major 
Tate reported to General Davidson, and which the General misunderstood as the selected 
portion for the battle. 

'^'■MS. pension statement of Thomas Shipp. John Martin, one of the heroic soldiers of 
that part of Surry County, now constituting Stokes, North Carolina, was born in Essex 
County, Virginia, in 1756: and. in 1768, his parents settled near the Saura Mountain, in 
Stokes. During the Revolution, Martin was very active, sometimes serving as a private 


The mountain men, after crossing Broad i-iver, went on 
some two and a half miles, to what is now Alexander's Ford 
of Green river, accomplishing not over twelve or thirteen miles 
this day, the fifth of October. Many of the horses had become 
weak, crippled, and exhausted, and not a few of the tramp- 
ers foot-sore and weary. Their progress was provokingly 
slow, and Campbell and his fellow leaders began to realize 
it. They determined to select their best men, best horses, 
and best rifles ; and, with this chosen corps, pursue Fergu- 
son unremittingly, and overtake him, if possible, before he 
could reach any post, or receive any re-inforcements. The 
Whig chiefs were not a little perplexed as to the course of 
Ferguson's retreat, and the objective point he had in view ; 
and some of the men began to exhibit signs of getting 
somewhat discouraged. But all doubts and perplexities 
were soon happily dissipated, as we shall presently learn. 

While Ferguson was encamped at Tate's place, an old 
gentleman called on him, who disguised the object of his 
visit. The next morning, October fifth, after traveling all 
night, some twenty miles or more, Ferguson's visitor, well 
known to many of the troops as a person of veracity, 
arrived at the camp of the South Carolinians at Flint Hill, 
and gave the following information : that he had been 
several days with Colonel Ferguson, and had, by his plausi- 
ble address, succeeded in impressing the British commander 

volunteer, and sometimes as a lieutenant, in fighting the British and Tories. In February, 
1776, he served a tour under Colonel Joseph Williams against the Scotch-Tories, at Cross 
creek, who were defeated just before their arrival ; and in the fall of that year, he went on 
General Rutherford's expedition against the Cherokees, In a skirmish with the Tories, 
he wounded and captured one of their leaders, Horton, who died shortly afterwards. In 
July, 1780, he went in pu'-^uit of the fleeing Tory leader. Colonel Samuel Bryan, and par- 
ticipated in the fight at Colsnn's, under Colonel William Lee Davidson. But for the griev- 
ous wound he received near Broad river, he would have shared in the dangers and glories 
of King's Monnt.iin. He was stationed, in September, 1781. at Guilford, and shortly after 
at Wilmington, where he heard the joyful news of Cornwallis' surrender. 

After the war, he became a colonel in the militia ; in 1798 and 1799, be served as a mem- 
ber in the House of Commons; and was long a magistrate, presiding for thirty years in the 
County Court. He was a man of infinite humor and irony, possessing a keen perception 
of the ludicrous. Several characteristic anecdotes are preserved of him in Wheeler's 
History of North Carolina, He died at his home, near the Saura Mountain, April 5th, 
1823, leaving many children to inherit his virtues. The late General John Gray Bynum 
wa.s his grandson, as is the Hon. William P. Bynum, of Charlotte. 


with the beHef that his aged visitor was a great friend to 
the Royal cause; that Ferguson, the evening before, had 
sent an express to Lord CornwalHs, at Charlotte, announc- 
ing that he knew full well that the Back Water men were 
in hot pursuit ; that he should select his ground, and boldly 
meet them ; that he defied God Almighty himself and all 
the Rebels out of h — 1 to overcome him ; that he had 
completed the business of his mission, in collecting and 
training the friends of the King in that quarter, so that he 
could now bring a re-inforcement of upwards of a thousand 
men to the Royal army ; but as the intervening distance, 
thirty to forty miles to Charlotte, was through a d — d rebel- 
lious country, and as the Rebels were such cowardly rascals, 
that instead of meeting him in an open field, they would 
resort to ambuscades, he would, therefore, be glad if his 
Lordship would send Tarleton with his horse and infantry 
to escort him to head-quarters.* 

During the day, Williams and Brandon were missed 
from the camp, and Colonel Hill was informed that they 
had taken a pathway that led to the mountains. After sun- 
set they were seen to return. Colonel Hill, who had been 
on the watch for them, now inquired where they had been, 
as they had not been seen the greater part of the day. A^- 
first, they appeared unwilling to give any satisfactory infor- 
mation. Colonel Hill insisting that they should, like honor- 
able men, impart.whateverknowledge they may have gained, 
for the good of the whole, Williams at length acknowl- 
edged that they had visited the mountain men on their 
march south from the neighborhood of Gilbert Town, and 
had found them a fine set of fellows, well armed. When asked 
further by Colonel Hill where they were to foi'm a junction 
with them, he answered, "At the Old Iron Works, on Law- 
son's Fork." Hill remarked, that that would be marching 
directly out of the'way from Ferguson ; that it was undoubt- 

=■•' Hill's MS. narrative. Colonel Hill, recording his recollections thirty-four years after 
this event, makes the evident mistake that the old man visited Ferguson on King s 


edly the purpose of the mounttiin men to fight Ferguson, 
who had sent to Cornwalhs for Tarleton's horse and infantry 
to go to liis relief, and this re-inforcement miglit be expected 
in a day a two ; tlrat, if the battle was not fought before 
Tarleton's arrival, it was very certain it would not be fought 
at all ; that Ferguson, who had been bitter and cruel in his 
efforts to crush out the Whigs and their cause, was now in 
South Carolina, within striking distance, and it appeared as 
if Heaven had, in mercy, sent these mountain men to 
punish this arch-enemy of the people. 

Colonel Hill states, that Williams seemed for some 
moments to labor under a sense of embarrassment ; but 
finally confessed, that he had made use of deception in 
order to direct the attention of the mountaineers to Ninety 
Six. Hill then inquired if they had any cannon with them. 
Williams said "no," and then added, that such men with 
their rifles would soon reduce that post. Colonel Hill 
relates : "I then used the freedom to tell him, that I plainly 
saw through his design, which was to get the army into 
his own settlement, secure his remaining property, and 
plunder the Tories.'' In the course of the conversation, 
Williams said, with a considerable degree of warmth, that 
the North Carolinians might fight Ferguson or let it alone ; 
but it was the business of the South Carolinians to fight for 
their own country. Colonel Hill took the occasion further 
to inform him, that, notwithstanding he had taken such un- 
warrantable means to avoid an action with Ferguson, by his 
efforts to mislead the mountain men, he wo\ild endeavor to 
thwart his purposes. 

Leaving Williams to his own reflections. Colonel Hill at 
once informed Colonel Lacey what the former had done — 
that, to use a huntsman's phrase, he had been putting 
their friends on the wrong scent ; that should they not be 
correctly informed before the ensuing day, Ferguson 
might escape ; and as he. Colonel Hill, was unfit to make 
a night ride, with his arm still in a sling from the severe 


wound he received at Hanging Rock, he desired Colonel 
Lacey to go at once to the camp of the mountaineers, as he 
was better able to travel, and give them a just representa- 
tion of Ferguson's localit}^, and the necessity for the great- 
est expedidon in attacking him while yet within reach, and 
before Tai-leton could come to his aid. 

Taking Colonel Hill's horse, who was a good night 
traveler, with a person for pilot who was acquainted with 
the country, Lacey started on his mission at about eight 
o'clock in the evening ; and on crossing the spur of a moun- 
tain, they unfortunately strayed from the trail, and Lacey 
began to be suspicious that his guide was playing him false, 
and was endeavoring to betray him into the hands of the 
enemy. So strong was this conviction, that he twice cocked 
his gun to kill the suspected traitor ; but the pilot's earnest 
pleas of innocence prevailed. 

At length they regained the path, and, after a devious 
journey of some eighteen or twenty miles, reached the camp 
of the mountain men, at Green river, before day. Lacey was 
at once taken in charge, blind-folded, and conducted to the 
Colonels' quarters, where he introduced himself as Colonel 
Lacey. They at first repulsed his advances, taking him to 
be a Tory spy. He had the address, however, to convince 
them that he was no impostor. He informed them of Fer- 
guson's position, his strength, and urged them, by all 
means, to push forward immediately, and that, by combin- 
ing the Whig forces, they could undoubtedly overwhelm 
the Tory army, while delay might prove fatal to their success, 
as Ferguson had appealed to Lord Cornwallis for re-inforce- 
ments.* These views met with a hearty response from the 
sturdy mountaineers. 

* HiH's MS. narrative, and Dr. M. A. Moore's pamphlet Life of General Edward 
Lacey, pp. 16-17. Dr. Moore states that Lacey's journey from the camp of the South 
Carolinians to that of the mountaineers was sixty miles; but from Colonel Hill's repre- 
sentation of the time consumed by Lacey and his pilot, it is an evident mistake. The dis- 
tance from Flint Hill, across a somewhat rough and broken country, to the old ford on 
Green river, is as stated in the text. 

It should be added, in this connection, that Major Chronicle, who probably personally 
knew Colonel Lacey, must, on this visit of the latter, have been absent on a scout or with 
a foraging party. 


Colonel Lacey learned from the Whig leaders that Wil- 
liams and Brandon had represented to them that Ferguson 
had gone to Ninety Six ; and that by agreement, the 
mountain men were to form a junction with the South Caro- 
linians at the Old Iron Works, on Lawson's Fork of Pacolet. 
This tallied precisely with the opinion Colonel Hill had 
formed, judging from Williams' confession of deception, in 
order to lead the mountaineers to the region of Ninety Six, 
where his own interests were centered. When Campbell 
and his associates learned of the ruse Williams had attempt- 
ed to palm off upon them, they felt not a little indignant, 
as they had come so far, and suffered so many privations, 
for the sole purpose, if possible, of crushing Ferguson. 
The Cowpens was agreed on as the proper place for the 
junction of the forces the ensuing evening. 

Williams seemed intent on carrying his point of getting 
control of Sumter's men, and marching them towards 
Ninety Six. On the morning of Friday, the sixth of Octo- 
ber, he went the rounds of the camp of the South Caroli- 
nians, ordering the officers and men to prepare to march 
for the Old Iron Works ; but Colonel Hill followed quickly 
upon his heels, exposing his designs, and directing the men 
to await Colonel Lacey's return, that they might know to 
a certainty to what point to march, in order to form 
the expected union with their friends from the West. 
Colonel Hill animadverted upon the folly of making a 
foray into the region of Ninety Six simplj^ for the sake of 
Tory booty, when Ferguson, with his strong force, would 
be left in their rear, thoroughly acquainted with all the 
mountain gaps, and fords of the streams, to entrap and cut 
them off. Colonel Hill then ordered all who loved their 
country, and were readj^ to stand firmty by it in its hour of 
distress, to form a line on the right ; and those who pre- 
ferred to plunder, rather than courageously to meet the 
enemy, to form a line on the left. Colonel Hill adds, that 
he was happy that the greater portion took their places on 


the right, leaving but the few followers of Williams to oc- 
cupy the other position. 

Upon the return of Colonel Lacey, about ten o'clock, 
the troops renewed their march, with the expectation of 
uniting with the mountaineers at the Cowpens that evening. 
Colonel Williams, with his followers, hung upon the rear, 
as if he thought it unsafe to march by himself at a distance ; 
and when the pinch came, he abandoned the idea of going 
with his party alone to the region of Ninety Six. By this 
time, such was the spirit of animosity cherished by the 
Sumter men against Williams and his followers, that they 
shouted back affronting words — even throwing stones at 
them, the whole day.* About sunset, after a march of 
some twenty miles, the South Carolinians arrived at the 
place of their destination. 

The over-mountain men now demand our attention. 
They reached the ford of Green river on the evening of 
the fifth of October. Strong guards were placed around 
the camp, relieved every two hours — "mighty little sleep 
that night, "said Continental Jack sixtjr-four years thereafter. 
The whole night was spent in making a selection of the 
fittest men, horses, and equipments for a forced march, and 
successful attack on- the enemy. The number chosen was 
about seven hundred ; f thus leaving of the footmen and 
those having w^eak horses, judging from the aggregate 
given in the official report of the campaign, about six 

* These details of the movements and differences of Sumter's corps and Williams 
and his party, are taken from the interesting MS. narrative of Colonel William Hill. See- 
ing no reason to discredit the statements of this sturdy patriot, they have been used freely, 
the better to illustrate the difficulties of the times, and especially those attending the King's 
Mountain campaign. 

f Narrative of Ensign Robert Campbell, who served on the expedition; corroborated 
by Elijah Callaway's MS. narrative, in 1843. Genera] Wm. Lenoir says " five or six hun- 
dred " Campbell's and Callaway's statements in this case seem the most probable. Gen- 
eral Lenoir's recollections as to the number of footmen is very erroneous, placing them at 
about fifteen hundred. 

Spelts stated, that some fifty odd footmen followed in the rear, he among the number; 
and old " Continental Jack" insisted that though at first they were not able to keep up 
with the horsemen, yet they overtook them, before reaching King's Mountain, and shared 
in the fight. James Sevier testified to the fact, that a number of footmen actually followed 
and took part in the action. 


hundred and ninety, and somewhat less, according to the 
statement of the unknown member of Campbell's regiment. 
These were placed under the command of Major Joseph 
Herndon, an excellent officer of Cleveland's regiment, while 
Captain William Neal was left in special charge of Camp- 
bell's men. Colonel Campbell, realizing that the footmen 
might j-et be needed in his operations, and knowing that 
Neal was an officer of much energy of character, had 
selected him for this service; and gave directions to him, 
and to Major Herndon also, to do every thing in their 
power to expedite the march of the troops confided to their 
charge, by urging them forward as rapidly as possible. 

Colonel Lacey's opportune visit to the camp of the 
mountaineers was fortunate. Some, at least, of the Whig 
leaders, as tradition has it, began to doubt the policy of con- 
tinuing the uncertain pursuit, lest by being led too far away, 
their prolonged absence from their over-mountain homes 
might invite a raid from the hostile Cherokees upon their 
feebly protected families. Lacey's information and spirited 
appeals reassured the timid, and imparted new courage to 
the hopeful.* Instead of directing their course, as they 
otherwise would have done, to the Old Iron Works, on 
Lawson's Fork of Pacolet, some fifteen miles out of their 
way, they marched direct for the Cowpens, starting about 
daybreak on the morning of the sixth of October. They 
took a southerly direction to Sandy Plains, following a 
ridge road well adapted for travel ; \ thence bearing south- 
easterly to the Cowpens, a distance of some twenty-one 
miles altogether, reaching the place of rendezvous soon 
after sunset, a short time after the arrival of the South 
Carolinians and their associates, under Colonels Hill, Lacey, 
WiUiams, and Graham. J On the way, they passed near 
where several large bodies of Tories were assembled ; one, 

*MS. letter of the late Dr. Alex. Q. Bradley, Marion, Ala., December 29, 1871. 

+ MS. letter of Dr. T. B. Twitty, of Twitty's Ford of Broad river. 

t Hill's MS. narrative. In the narrative of Major Thomas Young, one of Williams- 
party, in the Orion magazine, the idea is conveyed that the mountaineers arrived first 
and were engaged in killing beeves. 


numbering six hundred, at Major Gibbs', about four miles 
to the right of the Cowpens, who were intending to join 
Ferguson the next dajr ; but the mountain men \\'ere after 
Ferguson, and would not be diverted from their purpose, 
and lose precious time, to strike at these lesser parties.* 
The riflemen from the mountains had turned out io catch 
Fergzison, and this was their rallying crj- from the day they 
had left the Sycamore Shoals, on the Watauga. f 

While the main object was kept steadily in view — not to 
be tempted away from the direct pursuit of Ferguson, yet 
it was deemed of sufficient importance to endeavor to make 
a night attack on this party at Major Gibbs'. The only ac- 
count we have of this enterprise is preserved in Ensign 
Campbell's diary : " On passing near the Cowpens, we 
heard of a large body of Tories about eight miles dis- 
tant, and, although the main enterprise was not to be 
delayed a singlfe moment, a party of eighty volunteers, 
under Ensign Robert Campbell, was dispatched in pursuit 
of them during the night. They had, however, removed 
before the mountaineers came to the place, and who, after 
riding all night, came up with the main body the next 
daj^." Ensign Campbell adds, that " a similar expedition 
was conducted by Captain Colvill, with no better success, 
but without causing delay," — and this, too, must have been 
the same night, though he places it as occurring on the 
following one. J: 

For an hour or two on the evening of the sixth, there was 
a stirring bivouac at the Cowpens. A wealthy English Tory, 
named Saunders, resided there, who reared large num- 
bers of cattle, and having many pens in which to herd his 
stock — hence the derivation of Cow-pens. Saunders, was, 

=:= Shelby, as cited in Haywood's Tennessee, 'jo\ and Ramsey's Tennessee, 234. Dr. 
Hunter, in his Sketches, 306, gives the number of the Tory party at Major Gibbs' as "four 
or five hundred," which is perhaps quite as large as it really was. 

V Hunter's Sketches. 

J MS. Diary of Ensign Robert Campbell, kindly communicated by Rev. D. C. Kelley, 
D. D. of Leeville, Tenn. This diary is a different document from the King's Mountain 
narrative, by the same writer. 


at the time, in bed — perhaps not very well, or feigning sick- 
ness ; from which he was unceremoniously pulled out, and 
treated prett}' roughly. When commanded to tell at what 
time Ferguson had passed that place, he declared that the 
British Colonel and his arm}^ had not passed there at all ; 
that there was plenty of torch pine in his house, which they 
could light, and search carefully, and if they could find any 
track or sign of an army, they might hang him., or do what- 
ever else they pleased with him ; but if they made no such 
discoveries, he trusted they would treat him more leniently. 
Search was accordingly made, but no evidence of an army 
passing there could be found.* Several of the old Toiy's 
cattle were quickly shot down and slaughtered for the sup- 
ply of the hungry soldiers ; and the bright camp fires were 
everywhere seen lighting up the gloomy surroundings, and 
strips of beef were quickly roasted upon the coals and 
embers ; while fifty acres of corn found there were har- 
vested in about ten minutes. f The weary men and horses 
were refreshed — save a few laggards who were too tardy in 
cooking their repast. 

Joseph Kerr, the cripple spy, was at this time a member 
of Colonel Williams' command. Either from Flint Hill, 
or shortly before reaching there, he had been sent to gain 
intelligence of Ferguson, and found him encamped — appar- 
ently at noon-day, on the sixth of October — at Peter 
Quinn's, six or seven miles from King's Mountain ; and 
designed marching to that point during the afternoon of that 
day. It was a region of many Tories, and Kerr found no 
difficulty in gaining access to Ferguson's camp ; and hav- 
ing been a cripple from his infancy, passed unsuspected of 
his true character, making anxious inquiries relative to 
taking protection, and was professedl}' gratified on learning 

"■■'MS. narrative of Vance and McDowell, preserved by the late Hon. Robert Henry. 

f Silas McBee's statement to the author in 1842. Mr. McBee was born November 24, 
1765, and was consequently not quite fifteen when he served on this campaign. He died 
in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, January 6th, 1845, in his eightieth year. He was a mem- 
ber of the first legislature of Alabama, and was a man much respected by all who knew him. 


good news concerning the King's cause and prospects. 
After managing, by his natural shrewdness and good sense, 
to make all the observations he could, he quietly retired, 
making his way, probably in a somewhat circuitous course, 
to rejoin his countrymen. As they were on the wing, he 
did not overtake them till the evening of that day, at the 
Cowpens, when he was able to report to the Whig chiefs 
Ferguson's movements and position, and that his numbers 
did not exceed fifteen hundred men.* This information 
was much more recent than had come through the old 
man who made his report at Flint Hill, on the morning 
of the fifth ; and it tended to corroborate the correctness of 
the general tenor of the intelligence. And it served to 
strengthen the faith of the mountain men, that with proper 
energy on their part, and the blessing of Providence, they 
would yet overtake and chastise the wily British leader and 
his Tory alhes, after whom they were so anxiously seeking. 
It was deemed important to gain the latest intelligence 
of Ferguson's present position, for he might not now be 
where he was when seen by Kerr. Among others, 
Enoch Gilmer, of the South Fork of Catawba, was pro- 
posed by Major Chronicle, of Graham's men. It was 
objected that Gilmer was not acquainted with the country 
through which Ferguson was beUeved to have marched. 
Chronicle replied, that Gilmer could acquire information 
better than those familiar with the region, for he could 
readily assume any character that the occasion might re- 
quire ; that he could cry and laugh in the same breath, and 
all who witnessed him would firmly believe that he was in 
earnest in both ; that he could act the part of a lunatic so 
appropriately that even those best acquainted with him, if 
not let into the secret, would not hesitate a moment to 
believe that he was actually deranged; that he was a 

CMS pension statement of Joseph Kerr ; Hunter's Slcetches of Western North Carolina, 
121 After the war, Kerr removed to White County, Tennessee, where he received a pen- 
sion in 1832 for his Revolutionary services, and subsequently died at a good old age. 


shrewd, cunning fellow, and a stranger to fear. He was 
selected among others, and started off on his mission. 

He called at a Torj^'s house not many miles in advance, 
and represented to him that he had been waiting on Fergu- 
son's supposed route from Denard's Ford to Ninety Six, 
intending to join his forces ; but not marching in that direc- 
tion, he was now seeking his camp. The Tor}', not sus- 
pecting Gilmer's true character, frankly related all he knew 
or had learned of Ferguson's movements and intentions ; 
that, after he had crossed Broad river at Denard's Ford, he 
had received a dispatch from Lord Cornwallis, ordering him 
to rejoin the main arm)' : that his Lordship was calling in his 
outposts, making readj' to give Gates a second defeat, reduce 
North Carolina, stamping out all Rebel opposition as in 
Georgia and South Carolina, when he would enter Virginia 
with a larger army than had 3'et marched over American 
soil.* Gilmer returned to the Cowpens before the troops 
took up their line of march that evening. All this was about 
on a par with the ordinary British boasting of the times ; 
but did not furnish the Whig leaders with the intelligence 
they more particularly desired relative to Ferguson's present 
plans and whereabouts. 

Meanwhile a council was held, in which the newly joined 
officers, save Colonel Williams, participated ; and Colonel 
Campbell was retained in the chief command — "in courte- 
sy," says Colonel Hill, " to him and his regiment, who had 
marched the greatest distance." Men and horses refreshed, 
they started about nine o'clock on their night's march in 
quest of Ferguson. To what extent the North and South 
Carolinians, who joined the mountain men at the Cowpens, 
added to their numbers, is not certainly known ; but 
as they were less jaded than the others, they probably 
reached about their full quota of four hundred, as is 
generally understood — Williams had, a few days before, 
called them in round numbers, four hundred and fifty, 

*Vance and McDowell narrative, as preserved by Robert Henry. 


including his own corps ; while Colonel Hill is silent 
in his narrative as to their strength. Thus the combined 
force at the Cowpens was about eleven hundred, and 
nearly all well armed with rifles. Here a prompt selec- 
tion was made by the officers from the several parties just 
arrived from Flint Hill — so that the whole number of 
mounted men finally chosen to pursue and attack Ferguson, 
was about nine hundred and ten, besides the squad of un- 
counted footmen, who were probably not so numerous as 
Spelts supposed. They maybe estimated, fro rata, accord- 
ing to the relative strength of their respective corps, about 
as follows : Chosen at Green river — Campbell's men, two 
hundred ; Shelby's, one hundred and twenty ; Sevier's, one 
hundred and twenty; Cleveland's, one hundred and ten; 
McDowell's, ninety ; and Winston's, sixty ; — total, seven 
hundred. Additional troops selected at the Cowpens : 
Lacey's, one hundred; Williams', sixty; and Graham and 
Hambright's, fifty ; — total, two hundred and ten ; and mak- 
ing altogether nine hundred and ten mounted men.* The 
squad of uncounted footmen should be added to the number. 
The little party of Georgians seem to have been united 
with Williams' men, and served to swell that small corps ; 
Chronicle's South Fork boys helped to make up the Lincoln 
force under Graham ; while the few footmen doubtless 
generally joined their respecdve corps, though some, like 
Spelts, united with the column most convenient to them 
when the time of trial arrived. 

='=The official report signed by Campbell, Slielby and Cleveland, says nine bundred was 
the number selected ; Shelby's account in Haywood and Kamsey, and in the American 
Review says nine hundred and ten; Colonel Hills MS. narrative gives nine hundred 
and thirty-three as the number. Ramsey's Revolution in South Carotina, 1785 : Gordon's 
American War, 1788; and Moultrie's Memoirs, 1802. all give the number as nine hundred 
and ten. So does General Graham in his King s Mountain narrative. General Davidson, 
in his letter to General Sumner, October 10, 1780, says sixteen hundred was the number 
selected — a palpable error, or exaggeration — which was copied by Marshall into the first 
edition of his Li/e 0/ Washington. 

" It is not easy." says Rev. Mr. Lathan. " to determine with any degree of certainty, 
the exact number of Americans engaged in the battle of King's Mountain." It is as accurately 
known as the numbers are in military operations generally, by following the official and 
other reliable reports, and discarding palpable errors and exaggerations — such for instance, 
as that which this writer gives that the South Carolinians under Hill and Lacey " amounted 
to near two thousand." 


It pruved a very dark night, and to add to the un- 
pleasantness and difficuhy of the march, a drizzly rain soon 
set in, which, Shelby says, was, at least part of the time, 
excessively hard. While the road was pretty good, as 
Silas McBee represents, who was raised on Thicketty creek 
in that region, yet, from the darkness brooding over them, 
the pilots of Campbell's men lost their way, and that corps 
became much confused, and dispersed through the woods, 
so when morning appeared the rear portion were not more 
than five miles from the Cowpens, as Hill's manuscript 
informs us. Discovering the absence of the Virginians, 
and divining the cause, men were sent from the front at the 
dawn of day, in all directions, till the wanderers were found, 
who had taken a wrong trail, and were now put on the 
right road. 

Once reunited, with the light of day to guide them, they 
pushed forward uncommonly hard. They had designed 
crossing Broad river at Tate's, since Deer's Ferry, as the 
most direct route to King's Mountain ; and, as they neared 
that locality, they concluded to bear down the river, some 
two and a half miles, to the Cherokee Ford, lest the enemy, 
peradventure, or some portion of them, might be in posses- 
sion of the eastern bank of the stream at Tate's crossing, 
and oppose their passage.* It was near daylight, when on 
the river hills, in the neighborhood of the Cherokee Ford, 
Gilmer was sent forward to reconnoitre at the Ford, and 
discover, if possible, whether the enem}^ might not have 
wa3daid the crossing at that point, with a design of attack- 
ing their pursuers in the river. While awaiting Gilmer's 
return, orders were given to the men to keep their guns dry, 
for it was yet raining. After some little time, Gilmer's well- 
known voice was heard in the hollow near by, singing Bar- 
ney Linn, a favorite jolly song of the times, which was suffi- 

* Shelby \a American Review: Hill's MS. narrative; Vance and McDowell's state- 
ment; General Joseph Graham's sketch in Southern Literary Messenger, September, 1845; 
General Lenoir's narrative in Wheeler's North Carolina, ii, 106 ; MS. notes of conversa- 
tions with Silas McBee. 


cient notice that the way was clear. As they reached the 
river, it was about sunrise. Orders were given, that those 
having the largest horses should stem the current on the 
upper side of the stream. Not much attention was paid to 
the order. Though the river was deep, it was remarked 
that not a solitary soldier met with a ducking.* They had 
now marched some eighteen miles since leaving the Cow- 
pens, and were yet some fifteen miles from King's 

After passing the river, Gilmer was again sent forward 
to make discoveries, and dashed off at full gallop. The 
officers rode at a slow gait in front of their men — the latter, 
as if getting somewhat wearied of the pursuit, would some- 
times indulge in an oath, adding that if they were to have a 
battle, they could wish to engage in it, and have it soon over. 
Some three miles above the Cherokee Ford, they came to 
Ferguson's former encampment, where they halted a short 
time, taking such a snack as their wallets and saddle- 
bags afforded — scanty at best, and manjr entirely destitute. 
Coming to a cornfield by the roadside, the mountain men 
would soon pull it, cutting some of the raw corn from the 
cob for their own sustenance, and hauling a supply for their 

The rain continued to fall so heavily during the forenoon, 
that Colonels Campbell, Sevier and Cleveland concluded 
from the weary and jaded condition of both men and beasts, 
that it was best to halt and refresh. Many of the horses 
had given out. Riding up to Shelby, and apprising him of 
their views, he roughly replied with an oath: "I will not 
stop until night, if I follow Ferguson into Cornwallis' 
lines." Without replying, the other Colonels returned to 
their respective commands, and continued the march. 
The men could only keep their guns dry by wrapping 
their bags, blankets, and hunting shirts around the locks, 

* MS. rotes of conversations with Silas McBee ; Lenoir's narrative; and Benjamin 
Sharp's statement in the American Pioneer, 


thvis leaving their own persons unpleasantly exposed to the 
almost incessant stormjr weather which they had encountered 
since leaving the Cowpens. Proceeding but a mile after the 
proposed halt, the}^ came to Solomon Season's, who was a 
half- Whig, half-Loyalist, as occasion required, where they 
learned that Ferguson was only eight miles in advance ; and 
there, too, they had the good fortune to capture a couple of 
Tories, who, at the peril of their lives, were made to pilot the 
army to King's Mountain — one, as related by McBee, ac- 
companying Shelby, the other Cleveland. They gave some 
account of the situation of the enemy, which revived the 
hopes of all, that they would soon gain the object they were 
so anxiously seeking. Another gratifying circumstance 
was, that the rain ceased about noon, and cleared off with 
a fine cool breeze. When the mountaineers had advanced 
five miles further, some of Sevier's men called at the house 
of a Loyalist, seeking information, when the men would only 
say that Ferguson was not far away. As they departed, 
a girl followed the riflemen out of the building, and in- 
quired : "How many are there of you?" ''Enough," was 
the reply, "to whip Ferguson, if we can find him." "He 
is on that mountain," she said, pointing to the eminence 
three miles distant.* 

After traveling several miles, the officers in front de- 
scried the horse of Gilmer, the scout, fastened at a gate 
about three-fourths of a mile ahead. They gave whip to 
their steeds, and rode at full speed to the place ; and on 
going into the house, found Gilmer sitting at the table eat- 
ing. "You d — d rascal," exclaimed Colonel Campbell, 
" we have got you ! " "A true King's man, by G — ," re- 
plied Gilmer. In order to test the scout's ability to sustain his 
assumed character, Campbell had provided himself with a 
rope, with a running noose on it after the style of a lasso, 

*MS. notes of conversations with Colonel George Wilson, of Nashville, Tennessee, in 
1844. derived from Alexander Greer, one of Sevier's men, Greer was a noble specimen 
of the pioneer soldier ; became a Colonel of militia in after years, and died on Duck river, 
Bedford County, Tennessee, in February, 1810. 


and threw it over Gilmer's neck, swearing that they would 
hang him on the bow of the gate. Chronicle begged that 
he should not be hung there, for his ghost would haunt the 
women, who were present and in tears. Campbell acqui- 
esced, saying they would reserve him for the first conveni- 
ent over-hanging limb that they should come across on the 
road. Once fairly beyond sight of the house, a few hundred 
yards, the rope was detached from Gilmer's neck, and he 
permitted to remount his horse. He then stated the intelli- 
gence he had gained : That on reaching the house, and 
finding it occupied by a Tory family, he declared that he was 
a true King's man ; and wished to ascertain Ferguson's 
camp, as he desired to join him. Finding the two women at 
the house warmly attached to the King's cause, he could not 
repress his joy, so gave each a hearty sympathizing smack ; 
the youngest of whom now freely related, that she had been 
in Ferguson's camp that very morning, which was only 
about three miles awaj', and had carried the British com- 
mander some chickens ; that he was posted on a ridge 
between two branches where some deer hunters had a camp 
the previous autumn. Major Chronicle and Captain Mat- 
tocks stated that the camp referred to was theirs, and that 
they well knew the ground on which Ferguson had taken 
post — a spur of King's Mountain. 

As they now had recent knowledge of Ferguson's posi- 
tion, the officers led by Campbell rode a short distance by 
themselves, agreeing upon a plan of attack, and freely re- 
ported it to the men for their encouragement ; assuring them 
that by surrounding Ferguson's army, and shooting at them 
on their part up-hill, there would consequently be no danger 
of our men destroying each other, and every prospect of 
success would be theirs. It was a question, whether the 
mountaineers were numerous enough to surround the entire 
ridge on all sides — for they did not then know its exact 
length. But the scheme was heartily approved by all. The 
officers without stopping, began to agree upon the position 
each corps was to occupy in the attack. 


Colonel William Graham, who was at the head of the 
Ivincoln men, and had rendered good service the past sum- 
mer in connection with Shelby in the Spartanburg region, 
and had so successfully defended his fort on Buffalo creek, 
received at this point certain intelligence that his wife was 
in a precarious condition, some sixteen miles away, near 
Armstrong's Ford on the South Fork, and his presence was 
imperatively demanded at the earliest possible moment. 
When he stated the case to Colonel Campbell, the latter 
replied that if he could venture to remain, share in the im- 
pending batde, and carry the tidings of victory to his com- 
panion, it would prove the best possible intelligence to her. 
Turning to Chronicle, also from the South Fork, Campbell 
inquired, as if the Major knew something of the urgency 
of the case — " Ought Colonel Graham to have leave of 
absence?" "I think so. Colonel," responded Chronicle; 
"as it is a woman affair, let him go." Leave of absence 
was accordingly granted ; and David Dickey, much against 
his wishes, was assigned as an escort. Campbell, judging 
that Major Chronicle was a younger and more active officer 
than Lieutenant-Colonel Hambright, observed to the Major 
— "Now you must take Graham's place;" and turning to 
Hambright, Campbell asked if-he had any objections. He 
generously said, it was his wish that Chronicle should do 
so, as he best knew the ground. As this was satisfactorily 
arranged. Chronicle exclaimed, " Come on, my South Fork 
boys," and took the lead.* 

When within two or three miles of King's Mountain, 
Sevier's advance managed to capture two or three more 
Tories, who were out spying, from whom corroborative 
information was derived of the position of Ferguson's camp, 
and of the locality of his picket guard. f Soon after, a 

*This statement concerning Gilmer's adventures, the plan of the battle, and Colonel 
Graham, is taken from the MS Vance-McDowell narrative, and no doubt this portion was 
furnished by Robert Henry, one of Chronicle's party, 

t Benjamin Sharp's statement ; MS, notes of conversations with Colonel George Wilson, 
derived from Alexander Greer ; Lathan's Sketch, 14. 


youth, named John Ponder,* some fourteen years of age, 
was met riding in great haste, while another account says 
he was captvired in an old field — probably taking a circuit- 
ous course for Charlotte. Colonel Hambright knowing that 
this lad had a brother and other relatives in Ferguson's 
camp, caused his prompt arrest. On searching him, a fresh 
dispatch from Ferguson to Cornwallis was found, manifest- 
ing great anxiety as to his situation, and earnestly renew- 
ing his request for immediate assistance. The substance 
of the dispatch was made known to the men, without, how- 
ever, mentioning Ferguson's strength, which he seems to 
have given, lest his numbers should tend to discourage them. 
Interrogating young Ponder as to the kind of dress Fergu- 
son wore, he replied that while that officer was the best 
uniformed man on the mountain, they could not see his 
military suit, as he wore a checked shirt, or duster, over it. 
Colonel Hambright at once called the attention of his men 
to this peculiarity of Ferguson's dress: " Well., pays," said 
he, in his broken Pennsjdvania German accent, '■'■when ■you 
see dotinan tiiit a pig shirt on over his clothes, you may knoiv 
■who him is, and mark him mit your rijles." \ 

As they approached within a mile of the enemy, they 
met George Watkins, a good Whig, who had been a 
prisoner with Ferguson ; and having been released on 
parole, was now on his way home. He was able to give 
the very latest information, with the assurance that the 
enemy still maintained their position on the mountain. 
Here a brief halt was made. Hitherto the men had 
been mostly unembodied — marching singly, or in squads. 

* General Joseph Graham, in his King's Mountain narrative, gives the name as Fonde- 
rin, which Dr. Hunter in his Sketches repeats. But Colonel J. R. Logan, who has lived 
all his life of some seventy years in the King's Mountain region, and whose grandfather, 
William Logan, was in the battle, states that all the aged persons of that section of country 
unite in declaring that the youths name was John Ponder. A Mr. Dover, says Colonel 
Logan, was likewise met on the march, and imparted some information to the Whig 
leaders of Fergu^^on's movements and whereabouts; and the families of the Ponders and 
Dovers still reside in York County, South Carolina, and Cleveland County, North Caro- 
lina, while Ponder's Branch of King's creek is a well-known stream in that quarter. 

•i-General Graham's King's Mountain narrative; MS. correspondence of Abram Hardin; 
Hunter's Western North Carolina, 306-7. 


as might best suit their convenience; " but little subordi- 
nation," says Colonel Hill, "had been required or ex- 
pected." The men were now formed into two lines, two 
men deep — Colonel Campbell leading the right line, and 
Colonel Cleveland the left.* The officers renewedly adopted 
the plan of attack already suggested, to surround the enemy ; 
but Williams, as Colonel Hill states, dared not appear at the 
council, in consequence of his recent effort to mislead the 
Whig Colonels. The strictest orders were given that no 
talking would be allowed on the march, which was faithfully 
obeyed, every man seeming as dumb as the poor brute that he 
rode.f It was somewhere near this point, that Major Winston 
was detached, with a portion of the Wilkes and Surry troops, 
to make a detour, apparently south of the Quarry road, to 
gain the right of Ferguson. | 

After passing Whistnant's Mill creek, the mountaineers 
followed the ridge road past what is now the Antioch Bap- 
tist church, thence northerly till they intersected the road 
leading from North Carolina to Yorkville, along which 
latter they marched to the right, a nearly south-easterly 
course, crossing Ponder's Branch, and another upper prong 
of King's creek, by way of Colonel Hambright's subsequent 
improvements, and through a gap in the mountain to the 
battle hill. Or, as General Graham describes the line of 
March after passing King's creek, "they moved up a branch 
and ravine, between two rocky knobs ; be3rond which the 
top of the mountain and the enem3''s camp upon it, were in 
full view, about a hundred poles in front." 

This route by way of Antioch church and Ponder's 
Branch was quite circuitous, north of the old Quarry road. 
The traditions of the King's Mountain region are more or 
less contradictory ; but the statements of the best informed 
indicate this as the course pursued ;§ and probably this 

* James Crow's statement. 

T Statement of Hon. John F. Darby of St. Louis, derived from his grandfather, one of 
Campbell's men. 

X General Lenoir's narrative. 

g MS. statement of Colonel J. R. Logan. 


indirect way was taken in order to cut off the enemy's retreat, 
should tliey attempt a flight towards Charlotte when the 
Whigs should make their formidable appearance. In the 
rear of trees and bushes, on the east side of King's creek, 
a little above where the Qtiarrj^ road passes that stream, the 
mountaineers arrived at about three o'clock in the afternoon, 
when the word " halt " was given. Then they were ordered 
to "dismount and tie horses ; " next to " take off and tie up 
great-coats, blankets, etc., to your saddles," as it had been 
rainy the preceding night, and till within the past three 
hours ; and a few men were designated to take charge of 
the horses. Then came the final general order: "Fresh 
prime j-our guns, and every man go into battle firmly re- 
solving to fight till he dies!" * No such word as fail entered 
into the composition or calculations of Campbell and his 
men. Never was the war-cr}^ of the ancient Romans more 
ceaseless and determined, that Carthage must be destroyed, 
than was that of the mountaineers — to catch and destroy 
Ferguson ! 

'■'Hon. J. F. Darby's narrative: General Graham's statement; Shelby's memoir in 
American Review ; Latham's Sketch of King s Mountain. 



King's Mountain Battle, October 7th, 1780. 

Ferguson and his Men Resolve to Fight. — The Bayonet their Main Re- 
liance. — British Strength. — Character of the Provincial Rangers. — 
Different Classes of Loyalists Described. — Traits of the Mountain- 
eers. — The Holstoti Men, and Frotttier Adventures. — Assignment 
of the Whig Corps to the Attack. — Campbell's Appeal to his Men. 
— Winston s mis- Adventures. — Cleveland not the First to Commence 
the Action. — Surprising the Enejny's Picket. — Shelby's Cohinin An- 
noyed by the Enemy. — Campbell' s Men Rush into the Fight — At- 
tack on the British Main Guard. — The Virgiiiians Advance tip the 
Moti?ttain. — March of Cleveland' s Meji — Patriotic Speech of their 
Conunander — Drive in a Picket. — Movements of Lacey's Men. — 
Ca?npbeir s Corps Driven before the Bayonet — Rally, and Renew 
the Contest. — -Shelby, too. Retired before the Charging Columns. — 
The Right and Left Wings take part in the Action. — -Culbertson's 
Heroism. — CaptainMoses Shelby Wounded. — Ensign Campbell Dis- 
lodging Tories from their Rocky Ramparts. — Terrific Character of 
the Conflict. — Ajnusing Incident of one of Lacey's Men. — Heroic 
Efforts of Campbell and his Corps. — Ensign CajnpbeW s Good Con- 
duct. — Captain Edmondson s Exploit and Death. — Lieutenant 
Reece Bowen' s Disdain of Danger, and his Lamented Fall. — Camp- 
bells Active Efforts and Heroic Appeals. — Death of Major Chron- 
icle. — The Sotith Fork Boys Charged, and Several Wounded. — 
Robert Henry Transfixed, and yet Survived all his Associates. — 
William Twitty and Abram Forney. — Clevelatid and his Men. — 
Lieutenant Samuel fohnson and other Wounded Officers. — Lntre- 
pidity of Charles Gordon and David Wither spoofi. — Singular 
Adventure of Charles Bowen and Colonel Cleveland. 

Ferguson had carefully posted his Provincial corps and 
drilled Lo}-alists along the crest of the mountain, extending 
from nearly one end to the other. They had no thought of 
retreating from their pursuers. We have, indeed, no evi- 
dence that they really knew^ that the Back Water men were 


I so closely upon them. It is true that one account states, 

f that the British descried in the far distance " a thick cloud 

of cavalr}^"* apparently referring to thick clouds of dust 
produced by a large body of horsemen ; but this could 
not have been so, for the country was then covered with 
timber, which would have prevented any such discovery ; 
and it had, moreover, rained many successive hours during 
the preceding night and the fore part of that day, so that 
there was no dust from which any clouds could arise. At 
any rate, the enemy maintained their position, either hope- 
fully or sullenly determined to fight to the last. 

Ferguson's Provincials — or Rangers, as Tarleton terms 
them — were not a permanent corps, but made up for special 
service, from other Provincial bodies — the King's American 
Regiment, raised in and around New York, the Queen's 
Rangers, and the New Jersey Volunteers. These Colonial 
troops were clad, in the early pa-rt of the war, in green ; 
afterwards, as a rule, they wore scarlet coats. f The 
Provincials were well trained, and Ferguson relied largely 
upon them in consequence of their practised skill in 
the vise of the bayonet ; and, in case of necessitj^, for such 
of his Tory troops as were without that implement, he had 
provided each with a long knife, made by the blacksmiths 
of the country, the butt end of the handle of which v/as 
fitted the proper size to insert snugly in the muzzle of the 
rifle, with a shoulder or button two inches or more from 
the end, so that it could be used as an effective substitute 
for a bayonet. 

What was the exact strength of Ferguson's force cannot 
with certainty be determined. Tarleton says, beside his 
corps of Rangers — which numbered about one hundred — 
he had not far from one thousand Loyal Militia,;]: while 
some British accounts put the number as low as eight hun- 

"* History 0/ the War in America, Dublin, 1785, iii, 149. 
■fMS. Correspondence of Gen. J. W. DePeyster. 
X Southern Campaigns, 156, 


dred. The American official report, professing to gain the 
information from the enemy's provision returns of that da}-, 
gives the number as eleven hundred and twenty-five ; and 
this tallies pretty closely with Tarleton's statement. There 
is, however, some reason to suppose that about two hundred 
Tories left camp that day, perhaps on a scout, but more 
likely on a foraging expedition. 

It is fitting, in this connection, to speak of the character 
of these Loyalists, here arrayed on King's Mountain, and 
about to engage in a memorable conflict against their com- 
mon country — for they were all, or nearly all, save Fergu- 
son himself, natives of the Colonies. Now that Dunlap was 
separated from them, Ferguson's corps of Rangers seem to 
have been quite as unobjectionable a class of men as the 
temptations and unrestrained recklessness of war ordinarily 
permit the military to be ; and, though they had fled before 
Captain Hampton in their retreat from Earle's Ford of North 
Pacolet, and had recoiled before the galling fire of Shelby 
and Clarke near Cedar Spring, the summer preceding, yet 
they were experienced soldiers, and were by many account- 
ed as brave and reliable as any British troops in America. 

But who were the Tories proper? They were made up 
of different classes of citizens who sympathized with, or 
took up arms for the King, and fought against their fellow- 
citizens who were bravely contending for the liberties of 
their country. Tiiose of them who remained after the war, 
in their old localities, were sadly abused and villified as long 
as they lived. They hardly dared to offer an apology for 
their conduct. Thej' were numerous in many of the States, 
and have left many descendants, not a few of whom are 
among the most worthy and respected in the communities 
where they reside ; yet none of them boast of their relation- 
ship to the Loyalists. It has been the fashion to stigmatize 
the Tories without stint and without discrimination, heap- 
ing all manner of reproaches upon them and their class 
generally. The issue of the war, and the general verdict 


of the Whigs, who had suffered not a little in the seven 
years' conflict, seemed to justify these severe judgments. 
No one now supposes that he would have been a Tory, had 
it been the will of Providence that he should have been an 
actor in the scenes of the Revolution a century ago. As 
he reads the history of the stirring events connected with 
the war, he concludes, that had he been there, he would, 
as a matter of course, have been on the right side, periling 
life and fortune at every hazard in the cause of freedom. 

It is easy enough for us to imagine, when we read of 
deeds of humanity, generosity, and noble daring, that we, 
too, would have acted in a similar manner had we been in 
the same situation as those persons were who performed 
them. Few know, till they are tried, what they would do 
under certain circumstances. One's associations, surround- 
ings, and temptations oftentimes exert an overpowering in- 
fluence. Let us judge even the Tories with as much char- 
ity and leniency as we can. Some of them were cajoled 
into the British service, and not a few forced into it under 
various pretenses and intimidations. 

Rev. James H. Saye, who has spent his life of over 
seventy years in Georgia and South Carolina, and had 
much intercourse with the survivors of the Revolution in his 
day, made the various classes of Tories a special subject of 
study and inquiry, including the influences that prompted 
their unhappy choice, and grouped them into six principal 
divisions : 

I . There were some men in the country conscientiously 
opposed to w:ar, and every sort of revolution which led to 
it, or invoked its aid. They believed that the}' ought to 
be in subjection to the powers that be ; and hence they main- 
tained their allegiance to the British crown. The Quakers 
were of this class. They were then far more numerous in 
the Carolinas than now. The}' were, religiously, non-com- 
batants ; and the weight of their influence naturally fell on 
the wrong side. 


2. There were many persons who really knew nothing 
of the questions at issue in the contest. The world has 
always been cursed with too large a stock of men of this 
class, whose daj^s are passed in profound ignorance of every- 
thing which requires an exertion of intellect, yet often the 
most self-conceited beings that wear the human form — per- 
fect moles, delighting in nothing so much as dirt and dark- 
ness. This class followed their cunning and intriguing^ 
leaders in the Revolution, and were easily and naturally 
led into the camp of the Loyalists. 

3. Another class thought the Government of George 
the Third too good to exchange for an uncertainty. They 
practically said : " Let well enough alone ; a little tax on 
tea won't hurt us ; and as for principles and doctrines, leave 
them to the lawyers and parsons." 

4. Another class thought that, however desirable the 
right of self-government might be, it was then quite out of 
the question, unless his most gracious Majesty might be 
pleased to grant it ; and they believed that the fleets and 
armies of Great Britain were perfectly invincible, while de- 
feat and utter ruin to all engaged in it must follow rebellion 
against the King. 

5. There was another class who claimed no little cred- 
it for shrewdness and management ; who prided themselves 
on being genteel and philosophical. If they ever had scru- 
ples of conscience, they amounted to very little ; if an}^ re- 
ligious principles, they imposed no self-denial, and forbade 
no sensual gratification. If they had a spark of patriotism 
or love for their King, it could only be kindled by fuel from 
the Government coffers. The needle is no truer to the 
pole than were these people to the prospect of gain. War 
is usually a great distributor of money ; they wanted a lib- 
eral share, and wanted to acquire it easily. On the fall of 
Charleston, when Sir Henry Clinton issued his proclama- 
tion, these money-worshipers discovered in it a bow of 
promise. Pardon was offered to all rebels with one excep- 


tion ; and that exception embraced many persons of large 
estates, and a still greater number possessing comfortable 
means. Here the shadow of a golden harvest flitted befoi'e 
their longing eyes. The excepted Whigs had property 
enough to make many rich, if informed against by the zeal- 
ous advocates of the crown ; or, if plundered and appropri- 
ated without taking the trouble of making any report of the 
matter. Feelings of humanity and tenderness w6re not 
cultivated or regarded — it was enough that the proscribed 
Whigs had well-cultivated farms, negroes, horses, cattle, 
or other desirable property, and that they had, in their esti- 
mation, justly forfeited all by rebelling against the King and 
his Government. This class became the sycophants to Royal 
authority, and the army of plunderers during the war ; and 
once hardened in pillaging, they soon became reckless of 
life and virtue. 

6. There was yet another class which had a large fol- 
lowing among the Tories — a class, too, which either on ac- 
count of its numbers, industry, or general influence, gave 
character to a large portion of the whole fraternity. When 
a Revolutionary soldier was asked, " What sort of men were 
the Tories?" The almost invariable reply was, "A pack 
of rogues." An eminent e^cample of this class was found 
in the person of Plundering Sam Brown, already described, 
a notorious robber years before the war commenced ; yet, 
like other men who had wealth or the means of acquiring 
it, he had numerous friends and followers. He had the 
shrewdness to perceive that the field was well suited to his 
tastes and habits ; and accordingly raUied his retainers, 
joined Ferguson, and for a time proved an efficient ally. 
Though he had been an outlaw for many years, yet few 
brought to the Royal standard a larger share of talent for 
cunning and inhumanity for the position assigned him. He 
now enjoyed the liberty of plundering under the sanction 
of law and authority, and of arresting, for the sake of re- 
ward, those who had long been known as the stanch de- 


fenders of honesty and justice. The notorious Captain 
David Fanning, Bloody Bill Bates, and Bloody Bill Cun- 
ningham were men of the same infamous character — un- 
feeling, avaricious, revengeful, and bloody. 

Here, then, were the conscientious class of Loyalists ; 
an ignorant class ; an indifferent class ; a cowardly class ; 
a covetous, money-making class ; and a disappointed, ro- 
guish, fevengeful class. It must not be supposed that these 
characteristics were never combined. Several of them had 
a natural affinitj^ for each other, and were almost invariably 
found united in the same person. The non-combatants, the 
cowards, and the indifferent were not found among those 
arrayed on King's Mountain ; but Ferguson's force, aside 
from the young men who had enlisted under his standard, 
and a few worthy but misguided people, was largely made 
up of the worst characters which war evolves from the dregs 
of mankind.* 

In the confronting ranks was a very different class of 
men. Those from the Holston, under Campbell, were a 
peculiar people — somewhat of the character of Cromwell's 
soldiery. They were, almost to a man, Presbyterians. In 
their homes, in the Holston Valley, they were settled in 
pretty compact congregations ; quite tenacious of their re- 
ligious and civil liberties, as handed down from father to 
son from their Scotch-Irish ancestors. Their preacher, 
Rev. Charles Cummins, was well fitted for the times ; a 
man of piety and sterling patriotism, who constantly exerted 
himself to encourage his people to make every needed sac- 
rifice, and put forth every possible exertion in defense of the 
liberties of their country. They were a remarkable body 
of men, both physically and mentally. Inured to frontier 
life, raised mostly in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties, 
Virginia, a frontier region in the French and Indian war, they 
early setdedon the Holston, and were accustomed from their 
childhood to border life and hardships ; ever ready at the tap 

'■' Saye's Memoir of Mcjunkin. 


of the drum to turn out on military service ; if, in the busiest 
crop season, their wives, sisters, and daughters could, in their 
absence, plant, and sow, and harvest. They were better 
educated than most of the frontier settlers, and had a more 
thorough understanding of the questions at issue between 
the Colonies and their mother country. These men went 
forth to strike their country's foes, as did the patriarchs of 
old, feeling assured that the God of battles was with them, 
and that He would surely crown their efforts with success. 
They had no doubts nor fears. They trusted in God — and 
kept their powder dry. Such a thing as a coward was not 
known among them. How fitting it was, that to such a 
band of men should have been assigned, by Campbell's 
own good judgment, the attack on Ferguson's choicest 
troops — his Provincial Rangers. It was a happy omen of 
success — literally the forlorn hope — the right men in ^e 
right place. 

Lacey's men, mostly from York and Chester Counties, 
South Carolina, and some of those under Shelby, Sevier, 
Cleveland, Williams, Winston, and McDowell, were of the 
same character — Scotch-Irish Presbyterians ; but many of 
them, especially those from the Nolachucky, Watauga, and 
lower Holston, who had not been very long settled on the 
frontiers, were more of a mixed race, somewhat rough, but 
brave, fearless, and full of adventure. They were not a 
whit less patriotic than the Virginians ; and were ever ready 
to hug a bear, scalp an Indian, or beard the fiercest Tories 
wherever they could find them. Such, in brief, were the 
salient characteristics of the mountaineers, and the men of 
the up-country of the Carolinas, who were about to engage 
in deadly conflict with Ferguson and his motley followers. 

The decisive moment was now at hand, and the moun- 
taineers were eager for the fray. Campbell and his corps 
commanders had arranged their forces into two divisions, as 
nearly equal as they could conveniently form them, each 
party to attack opposite sides of the mountain. Campbell 


was to lead his Virginians across the southern end of the 
ridge, and south-east side, which Shelby designates as the 
column of the right center ; then Sevier's regiment, Mc- 
Dowell's and Winston's battalions, were to form a column 
on the right wing, north-east of Campbell, and in the order 
named, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Sevier. 
Of these, Winston had, it will be remembered, made a 
detour some distance to the south of Ferguson, in order the 
more promptly to gain the positioii assigned him, and per- 
adventure lend a helping hand in retarding the enemy, 
should they conclude that a hasty retreat was the better 
part of valor. 

Shelb3^'s regiment was to take position on the left of the 
mountain, directly opposite to Campbell, and form the left 
center — Campbell's left and Shelby's right coming together ; 
and beyond Shelbj' were respectively Williams' command, 
including Brandon, Hammond, and Candler ; then the South 
Carolinians under Lacey, Hathorne, and Steen, with the 
remainder of the Wilkes and Surry men under Cleveland, 
together with the Lincoln troops under Chronicle and Ham- 
bright, all under the direction of Colonel Cleveland. By 
this disposition was the patriot force arranged in four col- 
umns — two on either side of the mountain, led respectively 
by Colonels Campbell and Sevier on the right, and Shelby 
and Cleveland on the left. It is reasonable to presume that, 
as Winston had been detached, when a mile away, to gain 
his assigned position on the right, that Chronicle and Ham- 
bright were also early ordered to gain the extreme left por- 
tion of the mountain, so that these two parties should meet 
each other, and thus encompass the enemy on that end of 
the ridge. 

Before taking up the line of march, Campbell and the 
leading officers earnestly appealed to their soldiers — to the 
higher instincts of their natures, by all that was patriotic 
and noble among men, to fight like heroes, and give not an 
inch of ground, save only from the sheerest necessity, and 


then only to retrace and recover their lost ground at the 
earliest possible moment. Campbell personally visited all 
the corps; and said to Cleveland's men, as he did to all, 
" that if any of them, men or officers, were afraid, to quit 
the ranks and go home ; that he wished no man to engage 
in the action who could not fight ; that, as for himself, he 
was determined to fight the enemy a week, if need be, to 
gain the victory.''* Colonel Campbell also gave the neces- 
sary orders to all the principal officers, and repeated them, 
so as to be heard by a large portion of the line, and then 
placed himself at the head of his own regiment, as the 
other officers did at the head of their respective commands. f 
Many of the men threw aside their hats, tying handker- 
chiefs around their heads, so as to be less likely to be 
retarded by limbs and bushes when dashing up the moun- 
tain. \ 

At length the several corps started for the scene of con- 
flict, marching two men deep, led on by their gallant offi- 
cers. Both the right and left wings were somewhat longer 
in reaching their designated places than had been expected. 
When Winston's party had marched about a mile, they 
reached a steep hill, losing sight of the other columns, and 
evidently of King's Mountain also. Some men riding in 
view directed them to dismount from their horses, and 
march up the hill, which was immediately done, with the 
anticipation of meeting the enemy on its summit ; but, be- 
fore they had advanced two hundred paces, they were again 
hailed, disabused of their error, and directed to re-mount 
their horses and push on, as King's Mountain was yet a 
mile away. They now ran down the declivity with great 
precipitation to their horses, and, mounting them, rode, like 
so many fox hunters, at an almost break-neck speed, 
through rough woods and brambles, leaping branches and 

!• Statement of Joseph Phillips, one of Cleveland's men. 

t MS. narrative of Gov. Campbell. 

t Mrs. Ellet's Women of the Revolution, iii, 293. 


crossing ridges, without a proper guide who had a personal 
knowledge of the country. But they soon fell upon the 
enemy, as good luck would have it, at the very point of 
their intended destination. 

It was an erroneous idea of the South Carolina historian, 
Ramsay, that Cleveland's men, who had been compelled 
to make something of a circuit to reach their appointed po- 
sition in the arrangement for the onslaught, were the first 
to commence the action, and the first to receive a bayonet 
charge from the enemy. The official report, to which 
Cleveland gave the sanction of his signature, states that 
Shelby and Campbell's regiments began the attack. Such 
was the nature of the ground, and the thick, intervening 
foliage of the trees, that the Whigs were not discovered till 
within a quarter of a mile of Ferguson ; when the enemy's 
drums beat to arms, and the shrill whistle of their comman- 
der was distinctly heard, notifying his followers to repair to 
their places in the ranks, and be ready for hot work, for 
they well knew that no child's play was in reserve for them. 

A select party of Shelby's men undertook to surprise a 
picket of the enemy, of whose position they had previous 
knowledge, and accomplished their purpose without firing 
a gun or giving the least alarm. This exploit seems to 
have occurred some distance from the mountain, and was 
hailed by the army as a good omen.* Orders had been 
given to the right and left wings, that when the center col- 
umns were ready for the attack, they were to give the signal 
by raising a regular frontier war-whoop, after the Indian 
stj'le, and rush forward, doing the enemy all the injury 
possible ; and the others hearing the battle-shout and the 
reports of the rifles, were to follow suit. The first firing 
was heard on the north side of the mountain f — evidently 
made by the enemy upon Shelby's column, before they 
were in position to engage in the action. It was galling in 

* Sharp's narrative in the American Pioneer. 

f Young's auto-biography in the Orion magazine. 


its effect, and not a little annoying to the mountaineers, 
some of whom, in their impatience, complained that it 
would never do to be shot down without returning the fire. 
Shelby cooll}' replied, " press on to your places, and then 
your fire will not be lost." * 

But before Shelby's men could gain their position, Col- 
onel Campbell had thrown off his coat, and while leading 
his men to the attack, he exclaimed at the top of his voice, 
— "Here they are, my brave boys; sJwtd like h — /, and 
fight like devils!''^ The woods immediately resounded 
with the shouts of the line, in which they were heartily 
joined, first by Shelby's corps, and then instantly caught 
up by the others along the two wings. f When Captain 
De Peyster heard these almost deafening yells — the same 
in kind he too well remembered hearing from Shelby's men 
at Musgrove's Mill, — he remarked to Ferguson: "These 
things are ominous — these are the d — d j^elling boys ! "]; 
And when these terrific shouts saluted Ferguson's ears, he 
expressed fears for the result. § 

About the time the Virginians advanced to the conflict. 
Major Micajah Lewis, with his brother, Captain Joel Lewis, 
. both of the Wilkes and Surry troops, with Captain Andrew 
Colvill, of the Virginia regiment, had been designated by 
Colonel Campbell to make a dash on horseback upon the 
British main guard, half way up the spur of the mountain ; 
and having swept them out of the wa}^, to fall back, dis- 
mount, and join the others in the general advance. Here 
the first heavy firing took place between the contending 
parties, the guard commencing it. The mountaineers raised 
the Indian war-whoop and rushed upon the foe, who soon 
retreated, leaving some of their men to crimson the earth 
with their blood. 11 

* Graham's sketch in (he Southern Literary Messenger, and Foote's North Carolina. 

-f- Statement of John Craig, one of Campbell's men ; conversations with Gov. David 
Campbell, in 1844. 

X Statement, in 1844, of Col George Wilson. 

$Gov. Campbell's statement. 

\ MS. statement of J. L. Gray, and his communication in the Rutherford Enquirer, 
May 24th, 1859. 


One of the mountaineers came within rifle shot of a 
British sentinel before the latter perceived him ; on discov- 
ering the American, he discharged his musket, and ran 
with all his speed towards the camp on the hill. This ad- 
venturous Whig, who had pressed forward considerably in 
advance of his fellows, quickly dismounted, leveled his rifle, 
firing at the retreating Briton, the ball striking him in the 
back of the head, when he fell and expired.* Among the 
slain of the Virginians was Lieutenant Robert Edmondson, 
and John Beatty, the ensign of Colvill's company, while 
Lieutenant Samuel Newell, also of Colvill's corps, was 
wounded. Retiring down the hill, Newell passed Colonel 
Campbell and Major Edmondson hurrying on the regiment 
into action. 

But Newell was too good a soldier to give up at the very 
commencement of the fight ; and returning some distance, 
he came across a horse, mounting which he rode back to 
the lines to perform his share in the conflict. f 

What terse, patriotic utterances were made by the sev- 
eral Whig leaders to their heroic followers, have been main- 
ly lost to history. Such words had their intended effect at 
the time : but all were too intent on the exciting scenes be- 
fore them, to treasure up in their memories these outbursts 
of patriotism. Cleveland and his men, while passing 
around to the left of the mountain, were somewhat retarded 
by a swampy piece of ground then saturated with water ; \ 
but, getting clear of this, Cleveland discovered an advance 
picket of the enemy, when he made the following charac- 
teristic speech to his troops — not, under the circumstances, 
in a very formal manner we may well conclude, but, most 
likely, by piece-meal, as he rode along the lines : 

"My brave fellows, we have beaten the Tories, and we 
can beat them again. They are all cowards : if they had 

*This incident is given on authority of a writer in the Rutherford Enquirer^ May 24tll, 
1859 signing himself "J. L. G." — J. L. Gray. 

■J- Statements of Lieutenant Newell and Ensign Robert Campbell. 
X Sharp's narrative. 


the spirit of men, tliey would join with their fellow-citizens 
in supporting the independence of their country. When 
you are engaged, you are not to wait for the word of com- 
mand from me. I will show you, by my example, how to 
fight ; I can undertake no more. Every man must consider 
himself an officer, and act from his own judgment. Fire 
as quick as you can, and stand your ground as long as you 
can. When you can do no better, get behind trees, or 
retreat ; but I beg you not to run quite off. If we are 
repulsed, let us make a point of returning, and renewing 
the fight ; perhaps we may have better luck in the second 
attempt than the first. If any of you are afraid, such shall 
have leave to retire, and they are requested immediately to 
take themselves off."* But a single man, John Judd, 
intimated a preference to remain behind — " to hold the 
horses," as he expressed it ; while, to redeem the honor of 
the family, his brother, Rowland Judd, went forward, and 
acted the part of a brave soldier in the trying conflict. f 
The distance that Cleveland's men had to march, with the 
swampy nature of their route, delayed them some ten min- 
utes in reaching the place assigned them. But they nobly 
made amends for their delay by their heroic conduct in the 
action. The picket that they attacked soon gave way, and 
they were rapidly pursued up the mountain. 

Doctor Moore asserts, that it has always been the tradi- 
tion in the King's Mountain region, that inasmuch as Col- 
onel Lacey rode the express, and gave the patriots at Green 
river the true situation of Ferguson, Colonel Campbell gave 
him the honor of commencing the battle — the friends of 
Campbell, Shelby, Sevier, Winston, and Roebuck have for 
each also clairned the same honor ; that Lacey led on his 
men from the north-western and most level side of the 
mountain, engaging the attention of the foe, while Cleve- 


* Ramsay's Re^'oluiion in South Carolina^ 1785, ii, 182-83. This speech was derived 
apparently from Colonel Cleveland himself. 

fMS. correspondence of Col. H. A. Brown, formerly of Wilkes County, N. C, now of 
Maury County, Tennessee. 


land and the other leaders marched to their respective 
places of assignment, completel}- encircling Ferguson's 
army. * Judging from the official report, this tradition has 
no substantial foundation ; yet Lacey, no doubt, anticipated 
Cleveland, and perhaps some of the other regimental and 
battalion commandants, in engaging the attention of the 
enemj', and taking part in the conflict. 

Where Campbell's men ascended the mountain to com- 
mence the attack was rough, craggy, and rather abrupt-^the 
most difficult of ascent of any part of the ridge ; but these 
resolute mountaineers permitted no obstacles to prevent 
them from advancing upon the foe, creeping up the accliv- 
ity, litde by little, and from tree to tree, till they were 
nearly at the top — the action commencing at long fire, f 
The Virginians were the first upon whom Ferguson ordered 
his Rangers, with doubtless a part of his Loyalists, to make 
a fixed bayonet charge. Some of the Virginians obsti- 
nately stood their ground till a few of them were thrust 
through the body ; but being unable, with rifles only, to 
withstand such a charge, they broke and fled down the 
mountain — further, indeed, than was necessary. % In this 
rapid charge, Lieutenant Allaire, of Ferguson's corps, over- 
took an officer of the mountaineers, fully six feet high ; and 
the British Lieutenant being mounted, dashed up beside his 
adversary, and killed him with a single blow of his swOrd.§ 
But the British chargers did not venture quite to the bottom 
of the hill, before they wheeled, and quickly retired to the 
summit. Campbell's men ran across the narrow interven- 
ing valley to the top of the next ridge. Colonel Campbell 
and Major Edmondson, about half way between their men 
and the enemy, were loudly vociferating to their Virginians 
to halt and rally ; and Lieutenant Newell, now mounted, 
joined them in this effort. The men were soon formed, and 

* Li/c of Lacey, 17-18. 

f Statement of James Crow, of Campbell's men. 

J Statement of Lieutenant Newell. 

^ Lieutenant Allaires' narrative in the New York Royal Gazette, Feb, 24, 1781. 


again led up by their heroic commander to renew the con- 
test. * It was during this attack that Lieutenant Robert 
Edmondson, the younger, of Captain David Beattie's com- 
pany — for there were two Lieutenants of the Virginians of 
that name— was wounded in the arm. He then sheltered 
himself behind a tree, with one of his soldiers, John Craig, 
who bandaged up his Hmb. By this time Campbell's men 
were successfully rallied, and were returning to the charge, 
when Edmondson exclaimed, " Let us at it again !" f Of 
such grit was Campbell's Holston soldiers composed ; and 
as long as there was any fighting to be done for their 
countrjr, and they could stand upon their feet, they never 
failed to share largely in it. 

Colonel Shelby has briefly stated his knowledge of this 
heroic movement of Campbell and his men. " On the first 
onset," says Shelhy, " the Washington militia attempted 
rapidly to ascend the mountain ; but were met by the British 
regulars with fixed bayonets, and forced to retreat. They 
were soon rallied by their gallant commander, and some of 
his active officers, and by a constant and well-directed fire 
of our rifles we drove them back in our turn, and reached 
the summit of the mountain. " ]: Or, as cited by Haywood, 
and understood to be also from a statement by Shelby : 
" Campbell, with his division, ascended the hill, killing all 
that- came in his way, till coming near enough to the main 
body of the enemy, who were posted upon the summit, he 
poured in upon them a most deadly fire. The enem}^, with 
fixed bayonets, advanced upon his troops, who gave way 
and went down the hill, where they rallied and formed, and 
again advanced. The mountain -was covered with flame 
and smoke, and seemed to thtmder .''''% 

While Ferguson's Rangers were thus employed in their 
dashing bayonet charge against Campbell's column, Shelby 

♦ Statements of Newell, and David Campbell, afterwards of Campbell's Station, Tenn. 

fjohn Craig's statement. 

t Shelby's letter to Col. Arthur Campbell. Oct. 12, 1780. 

g Haywood's Tennessee, 71. 


was pressing the enemy on the opposite side and south- 
western end of the mountain ; so that the Provincials found 
it necessary to turn their attention to this body of the 
mountaineers. "Shelby, a man of the hardiest make, stiff 
as iron, among the dauntless singled out for dauntlessness, 
went right onward and upward like a man who had but one 
thing to do, and but one thought — to do it. "* But brave 
as he and his men were, they, too, had to retreat before the 
charging column, yet slowly firing as they retired. When, 
at the bottom of the hill, Shelb}^ wanted to bring his men to 
order, he would cry out — " Now, boys, quickly re-load your 
rifles, and let's advance upon them, and give them 
another h — 1 of a fire ! " f 

Thus were Campbell's and Shelby's men hotly engaged 
some ten minutes before the right and left wings reached 
their points of destination, when, at length, they shared in 
completely encompassing the enemy, and joined in the 
deadly fray. Ferguson soon found that he had not so much 
the advantage in position as he had anticipated ; for the sum- 
mit of the mountain was bare of timber, exposing his men to 
the assaults of the back-woods riflemen, who, as they 
pressed up the ridge, availed themselves of the trees on its 
sides, which afforded them protection, and which served to 
retard the movements of the British charging parties. As 
the enemy were drawn up in close column on the crest of 
the mountain, they presented a fair mark for the rifles of the 
mountaineers, f and they suffered severely by the exposure. 
The famous cavalry Colonel, Harry Lee, well observed of 
Ferguson's chosen place for battle — it was " more assailable 
by the rifle than defensible with the bayonet." § 

Among the keenest of the sharp-shooters under Shelby 
was Josiah Culbertson, so favorably noticed elsewhere in 
this work. He had been selected with others to get pos- 

'-' Bancroft, x, 338. 

tMS. statement of Gen. Thomas Love, derived from Captain David Vance. 

X Shelby's narrative in the American Review. 

gLee's Memoirs of the War, revised edition, N. Y., 1872, p 200, 


1,^ ^ 




session of an elevated position, for wliich a Tory Captain 
and a party under him stoutly contended ; but Culbertson 
and his riflemen were too alert for their antagonists, and 
pressing closely upon them, forced them to retire to some 
large rocks, where Culbertson at length shot their leader in 
the head, when the survivors fled, and soon after with their 
fellows were compelled to surrender. * 

Captain Moses Shelby, a brother of the Colonel, received 
two wounds in the action — the last dirough his thigh near 
his body, disabling it, so that he could not stand without help. 
He was assisted down to a branch, some distance from the 
foot of the mountain, and was left with his rifle for his de- 
fence, should he need it. Seeing one of the soldiers coming 
down too frequently to the branch under plea of thirst. 
Captain Shelby admonished him if he repeated his visit he 
would shoot him ; that it was no time to shirk duty, f 

But a portion of the Tories had concealed themselves 
behind a chain of rocks in that quarter, from which they 
kept up a destructive fire on the Americans. As Camp- 
bell's and Shelby's men came in contact at the south- 
western end of the ridge, Shelby directed Ensign Robert 
Campbell, of the Viginians, to move to the right, with a 
small party, and endeavor to dislodge the enemy from 
their rocky ramparts. Ensign Campbell led his men, 
under fire of the British and Tory lines, within forty steps 
of them ; but discovering that the Whigs had been driven 
down the hill, he gave orders to his party to post them- 
selves, as securely as possible, opposite to the rocks and 
near to the enemy, while he himself went to the assistance 
of Campbell and his fellow officers in bringing the regiment 
to order, and renewing the contest. These directions were 
punctually obeyed, and the watching party kept up so gall- 
ino- a fire with their well-plied rifle shots, as to compel 

* Washington, Indiana, Weekly Register, Oct. 17, 1839. 

f Captain Moses Shelby's Statement. Conversation with Maj. Thomas H. Shelby, 
son of Governor Shelby, in 1S63. 


Ferguson to order a stronger force to cover and strengthen 
his men behind their rocky defence ; but, towards the close 
of the action, they were forced to retire, with their demor- 
ahzed associates, to the north-eastern portion of the moun- 

The battle now raging all around the mountain was almost 
terrific. " When that conflict began," exclaimed the late 
eloquent Bailie Peyton, of Tennessee, "the mountain 
appeared volcanic ; there flashed along its summit, and 
around its base, and up its sides, one long sulphurous 
blaze." f The shouts of the mountaineers, the peals of 
hundreds of rifles and muskets, the loud commands and 
encouraging words of the respective officers, with every 
now and then the shrill screech of Ferguson's silver 
whistle high above the din and confusion of the battle, 
intermingled with the groans of the wounded in every part 
of the line, combined to convey the idea of another pande- 

Colonel Lacey and his gallant South Carolinians, who 
had seen hard service under Sumter on many a well-fought 
field, rushed forward to share in the contest. At the very 
first fire of the enemy. Colonel Lacey's fine horse was shot 
from under him. With a single exception these South 
Carolinians, mostly from York and Chester, proved them- 
selves worthy of the high reputation they had gained on 
other fields. That exception was an amusing one — a man 
who, at he£W"t, was as true a patriot as could be found in the 
Carolinas ; but who constitutionally could not stand the smell 
of powder, and invariably ran at the very first fire. 
When about going into action to fight Ferguson and his 
Tories, his friends, knowing his weakness, advised him to 
remain behind. "No," said he, indignantly, "I am 
determined to stand my ground to-daj^ live or die.''' True 
to his instinct, at the very first fire he took to his heels, as 

* Ensign CampbeU's narrative ; his statement, also, as published in 1823. 
■j-Mr. Peyton's speech in Congress, January i6th, 1834. 


usual. After the battle was over, when he returned, his 
friends chided him for his conduct. " From the first fire," 
said he, by way of apolog)', " I knew nothing whatever 
till I was gone about a hundred and fifty yards ; and when 
I came to myself, recollecting my resolves, I tried to stop ; 
but my confounded legs zvould carry me off!" * But for- 
tunately his associates were made up of better material, 
and rendered their country good service on this occasion. 

No regiment had their courage and endurance more 
severely tested than Campbell's. They were the first in 
the onset — the first to be charged down the declivity by 
Ferguson's Rangers — and the first to rally and return to 
the contest. Everything depended upon successfully rally- 
ing the men when first driven down the mountain. Had 
they have become demoralized as did the troops at Gates' 
defeat near Camden, and as did some of Greene's militia 
at Guilford, they would have brought disgrace and disaster 
upon the Whig cause. When repulsed at the point of the 
bayonet, the well-known voice of their heroic commander 
bade them "halt! — return my brave fellows, and you will 
drive the enemy immediately ! "f He was promptly obeyed, 
for Campbell and his officers had the full confidence and 
control of their mountaineers. They bravely faced about, 
and drove the enemy, in turn, up the mountain. In these 
desperate attacks, many a hand-to-hand fight occurred, and 
many an act of heroism transpired, the wonder and admir- 
ation of all beholders ; but there were so many such heroic 
incidents, where all were heroes, that only the particulars 
of here and there one have been handed down to us. 
Ensign Robert Campbell, at the head of a charging party, 
with singular boldness and address, killed Lieutenant 
McGinnis, a brave officer of Ferguson's Rangers. J 

Captain William Edmondson, also of Campbell's regi- 
ment, remarked to John McCrosky, one of his men, that 

* Moore's Life of Lncey, i8. 

■{■Statement of David Campbell, of Campbell's Station, who shared in the action. 

X Ramsey's Tennessee, 240. 


he was not satisfied with his position, and dashed forward 
into the hottest part of the battle, and there received the 
charge of DePeyster's Rangers, discharged his gun, then 
clubbed it and knocked the rifle out of the grasp of one 
of the Britons. Seizing him by the neck, he made him his 
prisoner, and brought him to the foot of the hill. Returning 
again up the mountain, he bravely fell fighting in front of 
his company, near his beloved Colonel. His faithful 
soldier, McCrosky, when the contest was ended, went in 
search of his Captain, found him, and related the great 
victory gained, when the dying man nodded his satifaction 
of the result. The stern Colonel Campbell was seen to 
brush awa}^ a tear, when he saw his good friend and heroic 
Captain stretched upon the ground under a tree, with one 
hand clutching his side, as if to restrain his life blood from 
ebbing away until the battle was over. He heard the shout 
of victory as his commander and friend grasped his other 
hand. He was past speaking; but he kissed his Colonel's 
hand, smiled, loosed his feeble hold on life, and the 
Christian patriot went to his reward.* 

Lieutenant Reece Bowen, who commanded one of the 
companies of the Virginia regiment, was observed while 
marching forward to attack the enemy, to make a hazard- 
ous and unnecessary exposure of his person. Some friend 
kindly remonstrated with him — " Why Bowen, do you not 
take a tree — why rashly present )'Ourself to the deliberate 
aim of the Provincial and Tory riflemen, concealed behind 
every rock and bush before you? — death will inevitably 
follow, if you persist." "Take to a tree," he indignantly 
rephed — "no! — never shall it be said, that I sought safety 
by hiding my person, or dodging from a Briton or Tory 
who opposed me in the field." Well had it been for him 
and his country, had he been more prudent, and, as his 

* Ramsey's Tennessee, 240-41 ; General John S. Preston's Address at the King's Moun- 
tain Celebration in October, 1855, p. 60. Ramsey states, that Captain Edmondson received 
a mortal wound in the breast, while Charles Bowen, one of his soldiers, says he was shot 
in the head. He may have been shot both in the head and body. 


superiors had advised, taken shelter whenever it could be 
found, for he had scarcely concluded his brave utterance, 
when a rifle ball struck him in the breast. He fell and 
expired. * 

The " red-haired Campbell— the cla5'more of the Argyle 
gleaming in his hand, and his blue eye glittering with a 
lurid flame," wherever he was, dashing here and there 
along the line, was himself a host. His clarion voice rang 
out above the clash of resounding arms and the peals of 
successive riflery, encouraging his heroic mountaineers to 
victory. And thus the battle raged with increased fury — the 
mountain men constantly gaining more confidence, and 
steadily lessening the number of their foes. 

Nor were the other columns idle. Major Chronicle 
and Lieutenant Colonel Hambright led their little band of 
South Fork boys up the north-east end of the mountain, 
where the ascent was more abrupt than elsewhere, save 
where Campbell's men made their attack. As they reached 
the base of the ridge, with Chronicle some ten paces in 
advance of his men, he raised his militar}^ hat, crying out — 
" Face to the hill I " Fie had scarcely uttered his command, 
when a ball struck him, and he fell ; and William Rabb, 
within some six feet of Chronicle, was killed almost in- 
stantly thereafter. The men steadily pressed on, under the 
leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Hambright, Major Joseph 
Dickson, and Captains Mattocks, Johnston, White, Espey 
and Martin — a formidable list of officers for so small a body 
of men ; but th^ all took their places in the line, and fought 
with determined heroism. Before they reached the crest of 
the mountain, the enemy charged bayonet — said to have 
been led by DePeyster — first firing off" their guns, by which 
Robert Henry supposed that Captain Mattocks and John 
Boji'd were killed, and W^illiam Gilmer, a brother of the 

*Gaxi^n'% Anecdotes, second series, p. 212, presumably communicated for that work 
by Judge Peter Johnston, of Abingdon, Virginia, a distinguished officer of L&e's Legion 
during the Revolution, and the ancestor of the present Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and 
Hon. John W. Johnston, United States Senator from that State. 


noted scout, and John Chittim wounded — the latter of 
Captain Martin's companj^ was shot in his side, making an 
orifice, through which, according to tradition, a silk hand- 
kerchief could be dra\vn, and yet he recovered, living to a 
good old age. * 

One gallant young fellow, Robert Henry, then in his 
sixteenth year, had taken his position behind a log stretched 
across a hollow ; and was getting ready to give the enemy 
another shot, when the bayonet chargers came dashing 
along. One of the enemy was advancing rapidly on 
young Henry, who was in the act of cocking his gun, when 
his antagonist's bayonet glanced along Henry's gun-barrel, 
passing clear through one of his hands, and penetrating into 
his thigh. Henrjr, in the melee, had shot the Torjr, and 
both fell to the ground — the young Whig hero completely 
transfixed. Henry was pretty well enveloped in powder- 
smoke ; but sad and helpless as was his condition, he could 
not help observing that man}^ of his South Fork friends 
were not more than a gun's length ahead of the Tory bay- 
onets, and the farthest could not have exceeded twenty feet, 
when thej' fired, with deadly effect, upon their pursuers, 
and retired to the bottom of the hill, quickly re-loading, and 
in turn chasing their enemies up the mountain. 

William Caldwell, one of Henr3''s companions, seeing 
his situation, pulled the bayonet out of his thigh ; but find- 
ing it yet sticking fast to the young soldier's hand, gave the 
wounded limb a kick with his boot, which loosened the 
bloody instrument from its hold. Henry suffered more in 
the operation of extracting the bayonet, than when the 
Briton made the effective thrust, driving it through his hand 
and into his thigh. Again upon his feet, he picked up his 
gun with his uninjured hand, and found it empty — how, he 
could not tell ; but supposed, as he received the terrible 
bayonet thrust, that he must, almost instinctively, have 
touched the trigger, and discharged his rifle, and that the 

*MS. letter of Dr. C, L. Hunter. 


"ball must have cut some main artery of his antagonist, as 
he bled profusely.* 

Another incident of the battle : When WiUiara Twitty, 
who behaved so gallantly in the defence of Graham's Fort 
the preceding summer, and now serving among the South 
Fork or Lincoln boys, discovered that his most intimate 
crony had been shot down by his side, he believed that he 
knew from the powder-smoke, from behind which tree the 
fatal ball had sped ; and watching his opportunity to avenge 
the death of his friend, he had not long to wait, for soon he 
observed a head poking itself out from its shelter, when he 
quickly fired, and the Tory fell. After the battle, Twitty 
repaired to the tree and found one of his neighbors, a well- 
known Loyalist, with his brains blown out.f 

Abram Forney, a brave soldier of Captain William 
Johnston's company, of the Lincoln men, used in after 
years to relate this incident of the battle : When the contest 
had become warm and well-maintaingd on both sides, a 
small party of Whigs, not relishing the abundance of lead 
flying all around them, and occasionally cutting down some 
gallant comrade at their side, concluded to take temporarj^ 
shelter behind an old hollow chestnut tree — a mere shell — 
which stood near, and from its walls to pour forth a 
destructive fire upon the enemy. The British, however, 
presently observed the quarter whence this galling fire 
proceeded, and immediately returned their compliments in 

*MS. narrative of Robert Henry: MS. letter of Robert C. GiUam, Sept 2gth, 1858, 
giving statements derived from an interview with Mr. Henry, 

Mr. Henry was born in a rail pen, in then Rowan, now Iredall County, North Carolina. 
January loth, 1765. Full of patriotism, though young, he shared in the trials and perils of 
the Revolution, and in due time recovered from the severe wounds he received at King's 
Mountain. In 1795, he was one of the party who ran the boundary line between North 
Carolina and Tennessee. He subsequently studied law, and practised his profession many 
years in Buncombe County, He served in the House of Commons in 1833 and 1834. He 
was a clear and forcible public speaker; and his memory deserves to be held in grateful 
remembrance for preserving the narrative of the King's Mountain campaign and battle, so 
frequently cited in this work. He died in the new County of Clay, North Carolina, 
January 6th, 1863, within four days of attaining the patriarchal age of ninety-eight years, 
and he was undoubtedly the last of the heroes of King's Mountain. 

-I" MS. correspondence of Wm. L. Twitty, grandson of William Twitty. 


the shape of a few well-aimed volleys at the old shell, com- 
pletely perforating it with balls, and finally shivering it in 

When Cleveland's regiment hastened to their appointed 
place of attack, under a heavy fire while on the way, their 
brave commander exclaimed, pointing significantly to the 
mountain, "Yonder is your enemy, and the enemy of 
mankind!" They were soon hotly engaged with the 
Loyalists lining the brow of the eminence before them. 
From the Colonel down to the humblest private they all 
heartily detested Tories, and fought them with a resolute 
determination to subdue them at all hazards. They sought 
all natural places of protection — trees, logs, rocks, and 
bushes ; when Cleveland would, ever and anon, vocifer- 
ously urge onward and upward his troops — "a little nearer 
to them, my brave men ! " And the men of Wilkes and 
Surry would then dart from their places of concealment, and 
make a dash for more advanced positions. Occasionally 
one of their number would fall, which only served to nerve 
on the survivors to punish the Tories yet more effectually. 

In one of these bold and dashing forays, Lieutenant 
Samuel Johnson, of Captain Joel Lewis' company, was more 
adventurous than prudent, and found himself and men in a 
most dangerous and exposed position, which resulted in the 
loss of several of his soldiers, and receiving himself a severe 
wound in the abdomen. Three bullet holes were made in 
one skirt of his coat, and four in the other. After Lieuten- 
ant Johnson had fallen, and while the contest was yet 
fiercely raging around him, he repeatedly threw up, his 
hands, shouting — "-^ Huzza, boys!" The salvation of his 
life was attributed to the scanty amount of food he had taken 
during the three days preceding the battle, so difficult had 
it been to obtain it. f Of his fellow officers of Cleveland's 
regiment who were also among the wounded, were Major 

*Dr. C. L. Hunter, in IVkeeler s North Carolina^ ii, 245, 

-{- Pension statenlent of Johnson's widow, substantiated by surviving witnesses. 


Micaj ah Lewis, Captain Joel Lewis, Captain Minor Smith, 
and Lieutenant James M. Lewis ; the three wounded Lewises 
were brothers, and a noble triumvirate they were. Daniel 
Siske and Thomas Bicknell were among the killed of the 
Wilkes regiment, as the manuscript records of that county 

Many a mortal combat and hand-to-hand rencontre, 
took place in this part of the line. Charles Gordon, appar- 
ently a young officer, made a quick, bold movement into 
the midst of the enemy, seizing a Tory officer by his cue, 
and commenced dragging him down the mountain, when 
the fellow suddenly drew and discharged his pistol, break- 
ing Gordon's left arm ; whereupon the latter, with his sword 
in hand, killed the officer outright. The whole affair was 
but the work of a moment, and was regarded at the time as 
an intrepid act — a prodigy of valor. * David Witherspoon, 
also of Cleveland's regiment, in getting into close quarters, 
discovered one of the enemy prostrate on the ground, 
loading and firing in rapid succession. Witherspoon drew 
his rifle on him and fired, when the Red Coat, wounded, 
pitched the butt of his gun, in submission, towards his 
antagonist, throwing up his hands imploring mercy ; and 
when Witherspoon reached him, he found his mouth full of 
balls, chewing them so as to make them jagged, and render 
the wounds they might inflict more fatal, f 

Early in the engagement. Colonel Cleveland's noble 
steed, "Roebuck," received two wounds, and he had to dis- 
mount ; yet, unwieldly as he was, he managed under the 
excitement surrounding him, to keep fully up with his men, 

'■'MS. statements of Rev. Z. H. Gordon, and Mrs Sarah C. Law, nephew and niece of 
the hero of this adventure. Charles Gordon was a native of the Fredericksburg region, in 
Virginia, early settling in what subsequently became Wilkes County, North Carolina, 
where he filled public positions, ^nd became a Major in the militia. He married a daughter 
of General Lenoir, dying near what is now Patterson, Caldwell County, in that State, 
March 24, 1799. at the age of about thirty-seven years. Charles G. McDowell, of Shufords- 
ville, N. C, and the lady of Hon James C. Harper of Patterson, are his grand-children, 
and Mrs. C. A. Cilley. of Lenoir, N C, is his great grand-Jaughter. 

•f-MS. letter of Col. J. H. Witherspoon, a son of David Witherspoon, Nov. 25, 1880, 
giving the incident as related to him by his father. 


and, with rifle in hand, gallantly fulfilling all the duties of 
the occasion ; until he was at length remounted, one of his 
men bringing him another horse. * An incident occurred, 
near the close of the contest, of an exciting character, and 
which very nearl}' cost the heroic Colonel his life. Charles 
Bowen, of Captain William Edmondson's company, of 
Campbell's regiment, heard vaguely that his brother. Lieu- 
tenant Reece Bowen, had been killed, and was much dis- 
tressed and exasperated in consequence. On the spur of 
the moment, and without due consideration of the danger 
he incurred, he commenced a wild and hurried search for 
his brother, hoping he might j^et find him in a wounded 
condition only. He soon came across his own fallen Cap- 
tain Edmondson, shot in the head, and dying ; and hurry- 
ing from one point to another, he at length found himself 
within fifteen or twenty paces of the enemy, and near to 
Colonel Cleveland, when he slipped behind a tree. 

At this time, the enemy began to waver, and show 
signs of surrendering. Bowen promptly shot down the first 
man among them who hoisted a flag ; and immediately, as 
the custom was, turned his back to the tree, to re-load, 
when Cleveland advanced on foot, suspecting from the 
wildness of his actions that he was a Tory, and demanded 
the countersign, which Bowen, in his half-bewildered state 
of mind, had, for the time being, forgotten. Cleveland, 
now confirmed in his conjectures, instantljr levelled his rifle 
at Bowen's breast, and attempted to shoot ; but fortunately 
it missed fire. Bowen enraged, and perhaps hardly aware 
of his own act, jumped at and seized Cleveland by the 
collar, snatched his tomahawk from his belt, and would in 
another moment have buried it in the Colonel's brains, had 
not his armbeen arrested by a soldier, named Buchanan, who 
knew both parties. Bowen, now coming to himself, recol- 
lected the countersign, and gave it — " Buford ;" when 
Cleveland dropped his gun, and clasped Bowen in his arms 

* Sharp's narrative. 


for joy, that each had so narrowly and unwittingly been re- 
strained from sacrificing the other.* Well has a noble 
South Carolina orator, a grandson of the illustrious Camp- 
bell, described him — " Cleveland, so brave and yet so 
gentle !" f 

*Bowen's MS. pension statement, 1832, then of Blount County, Tennessee. 
+ Gen. Jolin S, Preston's King's Mountain Address,i855. p. 60. 



The Battle.— October 7th, 1780. 

Further Progress and hicidents of the Contest.—Heroic Act of William 
Robertson. — Thomas Robertson Shoots a Tricky Tory. — Treatment 
of the Tory, Branson, by Captain VVithrow. — Captain Lenoir's 
Part in the Battle. — Captai>t Robert Sevier Wounded. — Alarm 
concerning Tarleton. — Mistake caused by Campbell' s Bald Faced 
Horse. — Campbell' s Daring Reconnoitre. — Anecdote of Cleveland. 
— Colonel Williajns' Patriotic Conduct. — William Giles "Creased" 
— Revives, and Renews the Fight. — Thomas Young's Relation of 
Colonel Williams' Fall. — Major Hamjnond's Desperate Charge, 
and singular Premonition of one of his Men. — Campbell and Shelby 
Renewing the Attack. — Lieutenant- Colonel Hambright Wounded. — 
Ferguson s Pride and Recklessness — Attemptitig to Escape, is 
Mortally Woimded. — Various Statements of Colonel Williams' 
Fall. — Furious Charge of Campbell' s and Shelby's Men. — Several 
Corps drive/t down the Mountain. — British Over-Shoot the Whigs. — 
North Carolina Tories first to Weaken. — Colonel Graham's Ujiex- 
pected Return. — Fergicsoji's Fall — DePeyster Vindicated. — Whigs 
slow to Recognize the White Flag. — Young Sevier's Shooting 
Paroxysm. — Efforts of Shelby and Campbell io Quell the Firing of 
the Whigs. — Three Rousing Cheers for the Great Victory. — 
Colonel Williams' Shot — an Exciting Scene. — Confiicting Stories 
of his Fatal Charge. — British Officers Surrender their Swords. — 
Ferguson' s Heroic Conduct in the Battle — his Mistakes. — He' 7vas 
Mortally Wounded, not Killed Out-Right. — Curiosity of the Whigs 
to View his Body. — His Mistresses. — Privations and Sufferings of 
the Mountaineers. — Strength of the Tories — Absence of their 
Leaders. — Their Fighting Qualities. — Dismay of the Southern 
British Commanders. — Their Ignorance of the Over-Mountain 
Whig Settleynents. — Boone not on the Ca7npaign. — Duration of the 
Battle. — Strength and Losses of the British and Tories. — Colonels 
fohn and Patrick Moore. — Number of Prisoners Taken. — Errors 
in Reports of Losses. — Names of Whigs Killed and Wounded. — 
Death of Captain Sevier. — William Moore Wounded. — Remarkable 
Losses in Campbell' s Regiment. — Captains Weir and Shannon 


Arrive. — Counting the Dead. — Caring for the Wounded.— Guard- 
ing the Prisoners. — Scarcity of Provisions. — King's Moimlain 
Souvenirs. — Heart- Rending Scenes of the Battle-Field. — The 
NiglU after the Action. 

All the different corps fought well at King's Mountain. 
The Burke and Rutherford battalion, under McDowell and 
Hampton, performed their full share in the engagement. 
Among Hampton's men was William Robertson, who 
during the fight was shot completely through the body, the 
ball entering at one side, and passing out at the other. 
He fell quite helpless to the ground. His wound was 
apparently mortal, and chancing to recognize one of his 
neighbors lying down near him, he anxiously inquired if he, 
too, was wounded. The reply was, that his ^un was choked, 
or something of the kind, and would not fire. Robertson 
then gave him his rifle. "Give me your shot-bag, also, 
old fellow," he added, for his own supply was exhausted. 
With his own hand the fallen patriot delivered him 
his ammunition. But God was better to the wounded 
hero than his fears ; for in due time he recovered, and raised 
a family, living near Brittain, in Rutherford County, on 
the farm now occupied by William L. Twitty. * 

Thomas Robertson, a brother of the wounded man, was 
posted behind a tree, when a Tory neighbor, named 
Lafferty, discovering him, called him by name ; and Rob- 
ertson peering around the tree to see, if he could, who had 
spoken to him, when a ball sped quickly past him, cutting 
the bark of the tree near his head. Robertson instantly 
fired back, before his antagonist could regain his position, 
mortally wounding the tricky Tory, who was near enough 
to exclaim, and be heard, "Robertson, you have ruined 
me I" " The d — 1 help you," responded the Whig, and then 
re-loading his rifle, renewed the fight for freedom. A Tory 
named Branson was wounded and fell ; and seeing his 

*Gen. Lenoir, in Wheeler's North Carolina, ii, 107: MS. correspondence of Wm. L. 
Twitty, who derived the incident from A. B. Long. 


Whig brother-in-law, Captain James Withrow, of Hampton's 
men, begged his relation to assist him. "Look to your 
friends for help," was the response, evincive of the bitter- 
ness that existed between the Whigs and Loyalists in those 
times. * 

All of Captain Wilham Lenoir's company of Cleveland's 
regiment, save half a dozen, remained behind with the other 
footmen at Green river, while the Captain himself went 
'forward in a private capacity, falling into line wherever he 
Ibund it most convenient — fighting " on his own hook." 
He fell in immediately behind Winston's men, in front of 
the right hand column, where he could see whfit was going 
on under McDowell and Hampton. He says he advanced 
the nearest way toward the enemy, under a heavy fire, 
until he got within thirty paces. He noticed the particular 
instance of bravery just related of William Robertson. 
"About that time," he adds, "I received a slight wound 
in my side, and another in my left arm ; and, after that, a 
bullet went through my hair above where it was tied, and 
my clothes were cut in several places. "f Participating in 
this close and hotly-contested action, it is sufficiently evident, 
was no child's play to those engaged in it. 

Sevier's column at length gained the summit of the hill, 
driving the enemy's left flank upon his center. | But they 
were not subjected to any bayonet charges — save a portion 
of the left, who hastened to the support of Campbell's regi- 
ment, when hard pressed, and became intermingled with 
them. Captain Robert Sevier was mortally wounded 
towards the close of the action, and becoming faint and 
thirsty, was assisted, by his brother, Joseph Sevier, some 
distance to a hollow, where there was a spring of water. 

The last time Campbell and Shelby's men were driven 
down the declivity, the mountaineers learned in some way — 

*MS. correspondence of W. L. Twitty, who adds, that the gun that Thomas Robert- 
son used in the battle, is in the possession of one of his decendants. 

\ General Lenoir's narrative, in Wheeler's North Carolina^ ii, 107. 
\ Official report of the Colonels to General Gates. 


perhaps by deceptive shouting on the part of the enemy — 
that Tai-leton with his horse had come, which seemed for the 
moment to have a dispiriting efiect ; when the officers, includ- 
ing Colonel Sevier, rode along the fine, calling upon the 
men to halt, assuring them that Tarleton was not there; and 
if he were, they could also make him, like Ferguson's 
Rangers, turn their backs, and flee up the mountain. This 
time the riflerpen pressed upon the enemy with the utmost 
firmness and determination. * 

In the beginning of the action, Colonel Campbell's 
famous Bald Face, a black horse, proving skitdsh, he ex- 
changed him with his namesake, a Mr. Campbell, of his 
own corps, for a bay animal ; and Bald Face was sent to 
the rear, and placed in charge of the Colonel's servant, 
John Broddy, who was a tall, well-proportioned mulatto, 
and in the distance very much resembled his master, f 
Broddy's curiosity prompted him to ride up within two 
hundred yards of the raging battle, sajdng " he had come 
to see what his master and the rest were doing." X Broddy, 
with his coat off, and sitting upon Bald Face, unwittingly 
deceived Colonels Shelby and Sevier, Captain Moses 
Shelby, and perhaps others, into the belief that it was Col- 
onel Campbell himself, intently watching at a respectful 
distance, the progress of the engagement. But Campbell was 
all this time in the thickest of the fight, riding his bay 

* Conversations with Colonel G. W. *^eviei , son of Colonel Sevier. 

-[-Colonel Cleveland was something of a wag. While in camp, £■« route ior King's 
Mountain, the obese and jolly Colonel walked up to Campbell's markee, and seeing him 
at the entrance and very much resembling his servant, pretended to mistake him for the 
latter, and accosted him with—" Halloo, Jack, did you take good care of my noble Roe- 
buck when you fed your master's horse ? — Ah ! I ask your pardon, Colonel Campbell ; you 
and your servant look so much alike, led to the mistake!" The joke was received, as it 
was given, in the best of good humor, and was much enjoyed among the officers. This 
anecdote was related to the author in 1843. by Benjamin Starritt, of Fayette County, Tenn., 
who was one of Lee's Legion in the Revolution, and Lee's and Campbell's corps fought 
together at the battle of Guilford ; and Starritt personally knew Cleveland, and had two 
brothers-in-law under Sevier at King's Mountain. 

I No doubt others of the sons of Africa, beside Broddy, aided in menial occupations 
on the campaign. It is worthy of record, that " there is a tradition in the King's Moun- 
tain region," says Colonel J. R. Logan, " that something more than a dozen negroes were 
under arms in the battle, in behalf of liberty, and demeaned themselves bravely." 


horse till he became exhausted, when he abandoned him, 
and was the remainder of the battle at the head of his men, 
on foot, with his coat off and his shirt collar open.* 

It was during that critical period of the battle, when the 
final rally of the Virginians had been made, and after Col- 
onel Campbell's horse had given out, that the intrepid chief 
ascended the mountain on foot, several paces in advance of 
his men ; and, having reached the point of the ridge, he 
climbed over a steep rock, and took a view of the position 
of the enemy within a very short distance of their lines, and 
discovered that they were retreating from behind the rocky 
i-ampart they had hitherto occupied with so much security 
to themselves, and injury to the mountaineers, when he 
rejoined his men unharmed, f 

Colonel Williams, who felt offended that his merit — and 
his superior rank, also — had not been recognized by the other 
Colonels, at first refused to take part in the battle ; J but he 
could not, after all, when the pinch came, resist so glorious 
an opportunity to do his country service, and redeem, it 
may be, the errors of the past. Williams wheeled chival- 
rously into line on the left of Shelby, exclaiming to his 
followers, " Come on, my boj's — the old wagoner never yet 
backed out. "§ Though his numbers were few, Williams 

* Statements of Lieutenant Newell and James Snodgrass, of Campbell's regiment, and 
Thomas Maxwell of Shelby's men, together with the published account of General John 
Campbell, in the Richmond Enquirer, June 24, 1823, with the appended letter of "J. C," 
dated Washington County, Virginia, June 13, 1823; corroborated by statements of Ex- 
Governor David Campbell of Abingdon, Va., to the author. General Campbell asserts in 
his article, that Andrew Evins also declared that Colonel Campbell rode his bay horse in 
the action until he gave out. 

William Moore, Israel Hayter, James Keyes, Benjamin White, William Anderson, of 
Campbell's regiment; Jacob Norris, James Pierce, and Gideon Harrison of Sevier's; and 
Joseph Phillips, of Cleveland's, also testify to the fact that it was Colonel Campbell's bay, 
not his bald faced horse that he rode in the action. Much confusion grew out of the 
mistake that it was Buid Fare that Campbell rode on the field, and on which he was supposed 
to have retired to a place of safety long before the conclusion of the battle. Several o^ 
Campbell's own men, and those who were nearest to him. and had the best means of know- 
ing, unite in declaring that this is a grievous error. See. also. Southern Literary Messenger 
September, 1845; and Foote's Sketches of North Carolina. 271. 

f Ensign Robert Campbell's narrative ; Holston Intelligencer^ October, 1810. 

t MS. letter of Dr. M. A. Moore to Dr. J. H. Logan. 

\ Dr. C L. Hunter, in Wheeler's North Carolina, ii, 246, 


had several good and experienced partisan officers — 
Brandon, Hammond, Hayes, Roebuck and Dillard among 
them ; and their intrepid example had an inspiring effect 
upon the men under their command. 

Among the ' ' bravest of the brave ' ' who fought under 
Williams- and Brandon, was William Giles, some of whose 
heroic adventures in the Union region in South Carolina, 
have already been related. The battle-field of King's 
Mountain was a fitting scene for such a fearless spirit. 
During the contest, into which he entered with his accus- 
tomed zeal, he received a ball through the back of his neck, 
and fell as if dead. William Sharp, his fellow-hero, his neigh- 
bor, his friend and relation, stopped a moment, brushed away 
a tear from his eye, saying — •' Poor fellow, he is dead ; but 
if I am spared a little longer, I will avenge his fall." After 
firing his rifle several times. Sharp, to his astonishment, saw 
Giles raise himself up, rest upon his elbow, and commence 
loading his gun. He had got creased, as it is said of horses 
when shot through the upper part of the neck, and falling 
helpless to the ground, after a while recover. Giles was soon 
upon his feet again, fought through the battle, and lived to 
a good old age. His son of the same name, in after years 
represented both York and Union Counties in the South 
Carolina Legislature.* 

Thomas Young, also under Williams and Brandon, re- 
lates a touching incident. An uncle of his, one McCrarj-, 
was then a prisoner with the British on Edisto Island ; and 
his wife, for fear her husband would be hung, compelled 
her youthful son, Matthew McCrary, to turn out and join 
Ferguson. "Just after we had reached the top of the hill," 
says Young, "Matthew discovered me, and ran from the 
British line, and threw his arms around me for jo}^ I told 
him to get a gun and fight ; he said he could not ; when I 
bade him let me go, that I might fight." Whether young 
McCrary found a gun, and shared in the engagement, we 

"■' MS. notes of Hon. Daniel Wallace. 


are not informed ; but certain it is, the lad had thrown 
away his British rifle, and the enemj'- had one less follower 
among their number. * 

" I well remember," continvies Young, " how I behaved. 
Ben Rollings worth and I took right up the side of the 
mountain, and fought our way, from tree to tree, up to the 
summit. I recollect I stood behind one tree, and fired 
until the bark was nearljr all knocked off, and my eyes 
pretty well filled with it. One fellow shaved me pretty 
close, for his bullet took a piece out of mj^ gun-stock. 
Before I was aware of it, I found myself apparently between 
my own regiment and the enemy, as I judged from seeing 
the paper which the Whigs wore in their hats, and the pine 
twigs the Tories wore in theirs, these being the badges of 

" On the top of the mountain," Mr. Young adds, "in 
the thickest of the fight, I saw Colonel Williams fall, and a 
braver or a better man never died upon the field of battle. 
I had seen him but once before, that day — it was in the 
beginning of the action, as he charged by me at full speed 
around the mountain. Toward the summit a ball struck 
his horse under the jaw, when he commenced stamping as 
if he were in a nest of yellow jackets. Colonel Williams 
threw the reins over the animal's neck — sprang to the 
ground, and dashed onward. The moment I heard the 
cry that Colonel Williams was shot, I ran to his assistance, 
for I loved him as a father, he had ever been so kind to me, 
almost always carrying a cake in his pocket for me and his 
little son, Joseph. They carried him into a tent, and 
sprinkled some water in his face. As he revived, his first 
words were, ' For God's sake, boys, don't give up the hill !' 
I remember it as well as if it had occurred yesterday. I 
left him in the arms of his son Daniel, and returned to the 
field to avenge his fall."f 

"■' Saye's Memoir o/ Mcjunkin. 

+ Narrative of Major Thomas Young, drawn up by Col. R. J. Gage, of Union County, 
S. C, and published in the Orioit magazine, Oct. 1843. 


In one of the charges on the enemy, Major Hammond, 
of WilHams' corps, full of his usual clash and intrepidity, 
broke through the British lines with a small squad of brave 
followers, when the enemy attempted to intercept their 
return. Seeing his own and soldiers' perilous situation, 
Hammond instantly faced about, ordering his men to join 
him in cutting their way back, which, by dint of the most 
heroic efforts, they successfully effected. * 

A singular incident occurred, which Major Hammond 
used to relate in connection with the contest. One of the 
men in his command had fought in many a battle, and had 
always proved himself true as steel. On the night preced- 
ing the action — in some snatch of sleep, perhaps, while on 
the march — he had a presentiment, that if he took part in 
the impending battle he would be killed. Before reaching 
King's Mountain, he concluded that he would, for once in 
his life, be justifiable, under the circumstances, in skulk- 
ing from danger, and thereby, as he believed, preserve his 
life for future usefulness to his countrjr. So he stole ofl', 
and hid himself. He was missed, when an orderly went 
in search of him, and finally discovered him in an out-of- 
the-way place, all covered up, head and body, with his 
blanket. Though taken to the front, he soon found means 
to absent himself again ; but his lurking place was again 
found, and he once more hurried to the front, just before 
the final attack. He evidently now made up his mind to 
do his duty, and let consequences take care of themselves ; 
and during the action he had posted himself behind a stump 
or tree, and evidently peering his head out to get a shot, 
received a fatal bullet in his forehead, killing him instantly. 
Subsequently learning the cause of his singular conduct in 
endeavoring to evade taking part in the contest. Major Ham- 
mond regretted that he had not known it at the time, so that 
he could have respected the soldier's conscientious convic- 

* Obituary notice of Col. Samuel Hammond, September, 1S42, written by his son-in- 
law, James H. R. Washington, corroborated by Mrs. Washington to the author, as related 
to her by her father. 


tions ; but, at the moment, suspecting that he was under the 
cowardly influence of fear, the Major could not, and would 
not, tolerate anything of the kind in his command. * 

And thus the battle waged with alternate advances and 
repulses, the columns of Campbell and Shelby having been 
two or three times dri^•en down the mountain at the point 
of the bayonet — the last one almost a rout; but the brave 
mountaineers had learned from experience when to stop in 
their retreat, face about, and push back their assailants. 
In this last desperate repulse, some of the Whig riflemen 
were transfixed, while others fell head-long over the cliffs. f 
When one column would drive the enemy back to their 
starting place, the next regiment would raise the battle-cry 
— " Come on, men, the enemy are retreating;" and when 
the Provincials and Lo3'alists would make a dash upon this 
party of mountain men, and would, in turn, be chased 
back by them, then the other Whig riflemen, who had just 
before been driven down the hill, would now advance, return- 
ingthe shout — "Come on, men, the enemy are retreating !" J 
Thus, as one of Campbell's men expressed it — "When the 
enem}' turned, we turned." § "Three times," says Mills' 
Statistics, " did the Britons charge with bayonet clown the 
hill ; as often did the Americans retreat ; and the moment 
the Britons turned then* backs, the Americans shot from 
behind every tree, and every rock, and laid them prostrate." 
It was the happy fruition of Shelby's perpetual battle cry — 
" Never shoot until you see an enemy, and never see an 
enemy, without bringing him down." | 

By this time the two wings of the mountaineers were 
pressing the enemy on both sides of the mountain, so that 
Ferguson's men had ample employment all around the emi- 

* Dr. A. L. Hammond's sketch of King's Mountain battle, in Charleston Courier, 
June 21, 1859, 

i Hamilton's Republic of the United States, ii, 161. 

X General Graham's narrative. 

g James Crow's statement. 

II ^iX^s' National Register, iv, 403. 


nence, without being able to repair to each other's relief, 
however much they needed it. At length the Provincial 
Rangers and their fellow chargers, led by the intrepid De- 
Peyster, began to grow weary and discouraged — steadily 
decreasing in numbers, and making no permanent inroads 
upon theJr tireless opposers, who, when beaten down the 
mountain, did not choose to stay there simply to oblige 
their enemies. From the - south-western portion of the 
ridge, the Rangers and Tories began to give way, and were 
doggedly driven by Campbell and Shelby, aided by some of 
Sevier's men, and perhaps others, intermingled with them. 

Near the close of the action, Lieutenant-Colonel Ham- 
bright, while encouraging his men, received a shot through 
his thigh, making an ugly wound — the ball passing between 
the thigh bone and his saddle, cutting some arteries, and 
filling his boot with blood. Discovering that the Colonel 
was wounded, Samuel Moore, of York County, South Caro- 
lina, proposed to assist him from his horse, which he declined, 
assigning as a reason, that it would distract the attention of 
his men, and, as he did not feel sick nor faint, he preferred 
to remain with them as long as he could sustain himself in 
the saddle. Then pressing forward, he exclaimed in his 
broken German: " Huzza, my prave poys, fight on a few 
minutes more, and te battle will be over!" Hearing 'this 
encouraging shout, Ferguson, it is said, responded : "Huzza, 
brave boys, the day is our own !" * It was among the last 
of the British leader's utterances to animate his men in a 
hopeless struggle. 

Dr. Ramsay, in his History of Tennessee, asserts that the 
Tories had begun to show flags in token of surrender, even 
before Ferguson was disabled, seeing which, he rode up, in 
two instances, and cut them down with his sword. It was 

=^MS correspondence of the venerable Abraham Hardin, who knew Colonel Ham- 
bright, and of Gill. Hambright, his descendant. Colonel Hambright, during the action, 
had his hat perforated with three bullet holes, and this memorial of the battle was long 
retained in the family. Though his wound was a serious one, he soon recovered ; but as 
some of the sinews of his thigh were cut, he ever after had a halt in his walk. 


suggested to him by some of his officers, that it was useless 
to prolong the contest, and throw their lives awajr. The 
slaughter was great, the wounded were numerous, and 
further resistance would be unavailing. But Ferguson's 
proud heart could not think of surrendering ; he despised 
his enemies, and swore "he never would yield to such a 
d — d banditti." Captain DePeyster, his second in com- 
mand, having the courage of his convictions, and " con- 
vinced from the first of the utter futihty of resistance at the 
point selected, advised a surrender, as soon as he became 
satisfied that Ferguson would not fall back upon the (sup- 
posed) rapidly advancing relief. He appears to have urged 
the only course which could have saved the little arm}^, 
viz: a precipitate, but orderly, retreat upon less exposed 
points, for the purpose of assisting the General-in- 
Chief in his attempt to re-inforce the detachment — so im- 
portant to future and ultimate success — by drawing back, 
nearer to some point, which alone, re-inforcements could 
reach, and where, alone, they could be made available. 
This advice was founded on what the event proved : that 
the British were about to be slaughtered to no purpose, like 
' ducks in a coop,' without inflicting any commensurate loss. 
The event proved the justice of this counsel." * 

At length, satisfied that all was lost, and firmlj^ resolving 
not to fall into the hands of the despised "Back-Water men," 
Ferguson, with a few chosen friends, made a desperate at- 
tempt to break through the Whig lines, on the south-east- 
ern side of the mountain, and escape. The intrepid British 
leader made a bold dash for life and freedom, with his sword 
in his left hand, cutting and slashing till he had broken it. 
Colonel Shelby mentions the sword incident, and Benjamin 
Sharp corroborates it ; while several others unite in testify- 
ing to the fact that he spurred his horse, and rushed out, 
attempting to escape, f Before the action commenced, it 

-'■Gen. DePeyster, in Historical Magazine^ March, 1869, 195. 

-{- Shelby's narrative \n American Review, Shelby, ascited in Haywood's Tennessee, 
71 ; Sharp's statement in American Pioneer, February, 1843; MS. account of King's 


was well known that Ferguson wielded his sword in his left 
hand, and that he wore a light or checked duster or hunt- 
ing-shirt for an outer garment, and the admonition had 
gone from soldier to soldier — " Look out for Ferguson with 
his sword in his left hand, wearing a light hunting-shirt !" * 

One of Sevier's men, named Gilleland, who had received 
several wounds, and was well-nigh exhausted, seeing 
the advance of Ferguson and his part}-, attempted to arrest 
the career of the great leader, but his gun snapped ; when 
he called out to Robert Young, of the same regiment — 
" There'^ Ferguson — shoot him !'' f ' " I'll try and see what 
Sweet-Lips can do," muttered Young, as he drew a sharp 
sight, discharging his rifle, when Ferguson fell from his 
horse, and his associates were either killed or driven back. 
Several rifle bullets had taken effect on Ferguson, appar- 
ently about the same time, and a number claimed the 
honor of having shot the fallen chief — among them, one 
Kusick, another of Sevier's sharp-shooters. X Certain it is, 
that Ferguson received six or eight wounds, one of them 
through the head. He was uriconscious when he fell, and 
did not long survive. It was in the region of Sevier's col- 
umn that he received his fatal shots ; and not very far, it 
would seem, from where Colonel Shelby had posted Ensign 
Robert Campbell to watch the motions of the enemy so 
strongly ensconced behind the range of rocks. 

Ensign Campbell gives us some further insight into 
Ferguson's attempt at flight. It was, as he represents, when 

Mountain by an unknown member of Campbell's corps; Hon. Wm. C. Preston's Defence 
of Colonel Campbell, 1822; MS. correspondence of Ex-Governor David Campbell, and Dr. 
A. Q. Bradley: conversations with Colonel Thomas H. Shelby. Mills, in his Statistics of 
South Carolina, asserts thai "Ferguson attempted to force his way ; " and Wheeler's 
North Carolina declares that " he made a desperate move to break through the American 
lines." The Political Magazine, for February, 1781, states while " advancing to reconnoitre 
the enemy, who were retiring, he fell by a random shot." 

* Statements of James and George W. Sevier; Silas McBee, Colonel George Wilson, 
Colonel Thomas H. Shelby, and others. Mrs. Ellet, in her Women of the Revolution, 
iii, 293, speaks of the check-shirt disguise. 

t Gilleland recovered from his wounds, and lived many years. 

} Conversations with James and George W. Sevier, and Colonel George Wilson ; and 
MS. correspondence of Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey. 


Colonels Campbell and Shelby were pressing the enemy 
from the south-western extremity of the mountain, and Fer- 
guson's men were falling fast on every hand. He had sent 
DePeyster with the Provincial Rangers to strengthen the 
front; and in reaching the point assigned him, he had to 
pass through a blaze of riflerj', losing many of his men in 
the effort. Ferguson's small cavalry' corps, under Lieuten- 
ant Taylor — consisting of twenty men, made up from his 
Rangers — were ordered to mount, and press forward to aid 
DePeyster in his heroic purpose ; but as fast as thej' mount- 
ed, they were mostly picked off by the Whig marksmen. 
Driven to desperation, Ferguson endeavored to make 
his escape, accompanied by two Loyalist Colonels, all 
mounted, who charged on that part of the line which 
the};^ thought was most vulnerable — " in the quarter where 
Sevier's men were," as related by James Sevier, one of 
their number, and Benjamin Starritt, derived fmm his two 
brothers-in-law, who served in Sevier's regiment ; and, as 
Ensign Campbell stated, " on that part of the line defended 
by his party." As soon as Ferguson reached the Whig 
front, he fell ; and the other two officers, attempting to 
retreat, soon shared the same fate. One of these Tory 
officers killed was, doubtless. Colonel Vezey Husband, and 
the other — not a Colonel, as Ensign Campbell supposed — 
but Major Daniel Plummer. 

Some accounts represent that Colonel Williams sought, 
a personal encounter with Ferguson, determined to kill him, 
or die in the attempt. This is more romantic than prob- 
able. It could hardly have been so, since Ferguson was 
shot some distance from where Williams must have received 
his wounds, and on the opposite side of the hill ; and the 
accounts pretty well agree, that Williams was wounded at 
the very close of the conflict, when the enemy had begun 
to exhibit their white flags, * while Ferguson was shot from 

♦Mills, in his Statistics of South Carolina, states, that Colotiel Williams "'had the 
good fortune to encounter personally in battle Colonel Ferguson, who attempted to force 


his horse some little time before. The suggestion made by 
Colonel Hill, in his manuscript narrative, that Colonel 
Wilhams was shot by some of Lacey's men, who were in- 
imical to him, and had sworn to take his life, is hardly 
credible ; and, for the honor of humanity, we are con- 
strained to discard so improbable and unpatriotic a supposi- 

The last desperate grapple between CampbelFs men — 
assisted by Shelby's — and the enemy, just before the close 
of the engagement, lasted twenty minutes^" — and within 

his way at this point. They both fell on the spot, being shot, it was supposed, by a ball 
from the British side— it was the last gun fired." 

Dr. Ramsay, the Tennessee historian, asserts that Colonel Williams " fell a victim to 
the true Palmetto spirit, and intemperate eagerness for battle. Toward the close of the 
engagement, he espied Ferguson riding near the line, and dashed toward him with the 
gallant determination of a personal encounter. ' I will kill Ferguson, or die in the attempt!' 
exclaimed Williams ; and spurring his horse in the direction of the enemy, received a bul- 
let as he crossed their line. He survived till he heard tbac his antagonist was killed, and 
his camp surrendered ; and amidst the shouts of victory by his triumphant countrymen, 
said : ■ 1 die contented ;' and with a smile on his countenance, expired." 

The late Dr. A. L. Hammond, son of Major Hammond, in an article on King's Moun- 
tain battle, in the Charleston Courier, June 21. 1859 stated that " Williams' horse, wound- 
ed and snorting with foam and blood at every bound, dashed forward. Ferguson turned 
to receive him ; their swords crossed — nothing more, for at that instant a deadly volley 
came from both sides, and the two combatants fell mortally wounded." 

Ensign Robert Campbell states, that "Colonel Williamfe was shot tbrojgli the body, 
near the close of the action, in making an attempt to chirge on Ferguson; he lived long 
enough to hear of the surrender of the British army, when he said: 'I die contented, 
since we have gained the victory ' " 

Dr. John H. Logan, the historian of the U/>-Country 0/ South Carolina, has preserved 
among the MS. traditions he gathered many years ago, this account of Colonel Williams' 
death: Williams and Ferguson fell nearly at the same time, on the eastern side of the 
mountain. Williams, from a more favorable position than those occupied by Campbell 
and Hambright. saw the magpie influence of Ferguson's whistle Dashing to the front, his 
horse throwing bloody foam from his month that had been struck by a ball, he was heard 
to exclaim — " I'll silence that whistle or die in the attempt!" Quickly Ferguson was no 
more ; and soon after, a, ball from the enemy laid Williams mortally wounded on the hill- 

Still more romantic is Simms' statement in his History of South Carolina: " Tradition 
reports that Williams and Ferguson perished by each other's hands ; that, after Ferguson 
had fallen by the pistol of Williams, and lav wounded on the ground the latter approached 
and offered him mercy ; and that his answer was a fatal bullet from the pistol of the dying 
man !" 

Much more probable is the statement of Dr. John Whelchel. of Williams' command. 
doubtless an eye-witness, and a man of much intelligence. In his pension declaration, he 
states that Colonel Williams received his fatal shot "immediately after the enemy had 
hoisted a flag to surrender." Lieutenant Joseph Hughes, of Brandon's men, makes a 
similar statement The narrative of Thomas Young already cited, also tends to divest 
thes? romances of any claim to historic probability. 

^' ''A British surgeon," says Lieutenant Newell, referring, doubtless, to Dr. Johnson, 
** stated that he held his watch, and that the storm lasted twenty minutes." 


thirty or forty yards of each other ; and was the most hotly 
contested part of the action. Campbell was on foot at the 
head of his regiment — so much advanced in front as to be 
in danger from the fire of his own men ; and his courageous 
words were — " Boys, remember your liberty ! Come on! 
come on ! my brave fellows ; another gun — another gun will 
do it ! D — m them, we must have them out of this !" * It 
was one incessant peal of fire-arms. The enemy made a 
firm stand ; but after a while they were forced to retire some 
distance along the crest of the mountain, towards their camp 
at the north-eastern extremity, when they halted again for a 
few moments. The brave men of Campbell and Shelby 
were sensibly aided by the heroic bravery of the left wing 
under Cleveland, Lacey and Williams, who pressed, with 
shouts of victory, upon the Tories in that quarter, which 
tended to re-animate the Virginians and the Sullivan troops, 
who, with re-doubled iury, fought like tigers. They drove 
Ferguson's surviving Rangers and the Tories before them to 
where their wagons were, behind which they made a rally ; 
but they were soon driven from this covert, down into a 
sunken or hollow place, by which time the Rangers were 
mostly killed or disabled, and the Loyalists quite de- 
moralized, f 

Campbell's column was two or three times driven down, 
or partly down the mountain ; Shelby says he was three 
times repulsed — and Doctor Ferguson, in his Memoir of 
his kinsman. Colonel Ferguson, declares that the Provin • 
cials, with their bayonets " repulsed the enemy in three 
several attacks." One part of Cleveland's line was charged 
once in the flank, and another portion was twice driven 
before the bayonet; while Chronicle and Hambright's 
Lincoln men were once, at least, forced down the hill. Mc- 
Dowell's corps received a bayonet charge, as Thomas Ken- 

Newell's and Sharp's statements, 
•r Statements of Lieutenant Newell, James Crow, and Henry Dickenson, of Campbell's 


nedy, one of the Captains, testifies. Sevier's column, save 
those intermingled with Campbell's men, was not charged 
dm-ing the action ; nor was WilHams' battalion ; * nor is it 
known that Lacey's or Winston's columns suffered from 
these bayonet charges. 

When the Provincials and Loyalists charged the Ameri- 
cans down the mountain, they seem to have reserved their 
fire till the termination of their pursuit ; and having dis- 
charged their rifles, they retreated with great precision, re- 
loading as they retraced their steps f — as they had learned 
very skillfully to do by the example and instructions of Fergu- 
son ; but while they were thus deliberately retiring, the sharp- 
sighted riflemen below them, taking deadly aim, would pick 
them off" at every moment. Long experience proves, that 
marksmen in a valley have the advantage of those on a 
hill, in firing at each other, which is probably owing to the 
terrestrial refraction. J The forest-hunters, though apprised 
of this fact, often shoot too high when their object is below 
them. Be this as it may, the English shot whistled over the 
heads of the Americans, rattling among the trees and cut- 
ting off" twigs, while the bullets of the mountaineers produced 
dreadful eflect — the British losses having been nearly three 
times that of their antagonists. Lieutenant Allaire states 
that the North Carolina Loyalists, seeing that they were 
surrounded, and numbers being without ammunition, were 
the first to give way, which naturally threw the rest of the 
Tories into confusion. § This may have been so, and yet 
the official report of Campbell and his associates be also 
true, that the greater part of the enemy's guns at the sur- 
render were still charged. 

As Robert Henry, of Hambright's and Chronicle's party, 

* So James Sevier and Silas McBee, of those regiments, respectfully stated to the 

f Communicated verbally, in July, 1842, by Samuel Handley, of Pontotoc County, 
Miss., as derived from his father, Captain Samuel Handley, Sr., who served in Sevier's regi- 
ment at King's Mountain. 

J Mills" Statiscics. 779. 

^Allaire's MS. Diary ; and his newspaper narrative, also. 


who had been traiislixed by a Tory bayonet, was making 
his way at the very close of the engagement to Clarke's 
Branch to quench his thirst, he unexpectedly met Colonel 
Graham on his large black steed, accompanied by David 
Dickey, who, wielding his sword around his head, exclaimed 
— '-D — m the Tories!"* He had heard the firing while 
on his way to his sick wife, and could not resist the impulse 
to return, and share in the battle. \ Just before the final 
surrender of the enemy, when there was much intermingling 
of the mountaineers. Colonel Shelby had the hair on 
the left side of his head scorched off, which was noticedby 
Colonel Sevier, who met him at this moment — so narrowly 
did,the heroic Shelby escape losing his life by Tory bullets. J 
With their men forced into a huddle near their tents and 
wagons, the surviving British officers could not form half a 
dozen of them together; and the demoralized Tories were 
being shot down like sheep at the slaughter. 

The fall of Ferguson is represented by Lieutenant 
Allaire as having occurred " early in the action ; " and 
Captain Ryerson, another of his corps officers, only states 
that DePe3'ster, after the loss of Ferguson, maintained his 
ground as long as it was possible to defend it. Tarleton 
states, that when Ferguson was shot, after nearly an hour's 
fighting, " his whole corps was thrown into total confusion ; 
no effort was made after this event, to resist the enemy's 
barbarity, or revenge the fall of their leader." In the 
Meynoir of General Samuel Graham, a Captain under 
Lord Cornwallis — a work prepared from the General's 
manuscripts — it is stated, that after the fall of Ferguson, 
and many of his men, " the remainder, after a short resist- 
ance, were overpowered, and compelled to surrender." A 

* Robert Henry s MS. narrative, appended to the statements of Vance and McDowell, 
-J- That night. Colonel Graham's only child, Sarah, was born, who, when she grew to 
womanhood, bei ame the wife of Abram Irvine, who was several years Sheriff of Ruther- 
ford County. The venerable Dr. O. E. Irvine, of Greenville, S. C, is one of several 
children of this marriage. 

\ Shelby s letter, August 12, and Colonel John Sevier s, August 27, 1812. 


writer in the London Political Magazine, for February, 
1781, asserts that when Ferguson fell, Captain DePeyster, 
the next in command, " immediately hoisted the white flag 
— that is, his white handkerchief ;" an officer close by him, 
enraged at such timidity, made a stroke at him with his 
sabre, and almost cut off his hand; nevertheless the surren- 
der went on." 

Allaire and Ryerson, his fellow officers, not only acquit 
DePe3'ster of the charge of timidity, but declare that his 
conduct was, in all "respects, proper;" and Captain 
Ryerson adds, that he "behaved like a brave good officer." 
Of course, the hand-cutting incident had no foundation. 
Ramsaj', the South Carolina historian, states that "no 
chance of escape being left, and all prospect of successful 
resistance being at an end, the second in command sued for 
quarter." Gordon, in his History, and Mackenzie, in his 
Strictures, adopt this view of the matter : And Ensign 
Robert Campbell, of the Virginia regiment observes, that as 
soon as Ferguson fell, " Captain DePe3'ster raised a flag, 
and called for quarters ; it was soon taken out of his hand 
by one of the officers on horseback, and raised so high that 
it could be seen by our line." 

But there were other white flags or emblems displayed 
by the enemy, either with or without the sanction of De- 
Peyster. A man w^as mounted on horseback with a white 
handkerchief as a token of submission ; but he was quickly 
shot down by the half-crazed Bowen, as already related; 
when another was mounted on the same horse, and set 
out for the display of the emblem of surrender, who soon 
shared the same fate, but a third met with better success — 
Major Evan Shelby received it, and, with others, pro- 
claimed the surrender. By this time white handkerchiefs 
were also displayed in various quarters on guns and ram- 
rods. " Our men," says Shelby, " who had been scattered 
in the battle, were continually coming up, and continued to 
fire, without comprehending, in the heat of the moment, 


what had happened." Many of the young men, it was said 
for their apolog}', knew not the meaning of a white flag 
under such circumstances ; while others had become embit- 
tered, and were crying out — "Give them Buford's play !"* — 
no quarters, as Tarleton had, the preceding May, so savagely 
treated Colonel Buford and his party. "When the 
British," sa3'S Mills' Statistics of South Carolina, "found 
themselves pressed on all sides, they hung out white hand- 
kerchiefs upon guns and halberds. Few of the Americans 
understood the signal, and the few that did, chose not to 
know what it meant ; so that, even after submission, the 
slaughter continued, until the Americans were weary of 
killing." This is a sad confession, but impartial truth de- 
mands that the record be faithful, though, in this case, there 
is reason to believe that the latter part of Mills' statement is 
somewhat exaggerated. 

Among those still engaged in this work of death was 
3roung Joseph Sevier, who had heard that his father. Col- 
onel Sevier, had been killed in the action — a false report, 
originating, probably, from the fact of the Colonel's brother. 
Captain Robert Sevier, having been fatally wounded ; and 
the J'oung soldier kept up firing upon the huddled Tories, 
until admonished to cease, when he excitedly cried out, 
with the tears chasing each other down his cheeks — " The 
d — d rascals have killed my father, and I'll keep loading 
and shooting till I kill every son of a b — h of them." Col- 
onel Sevier now riding up, his son discovered the mistake 
under which he had labored, and desisted, f 

But the Whig leaders were active in their efforts to put 
a stop to the further firing of the patriots. The subdued 
Tories were everywhere crying " quarters !" — " quarters !" 
" D — m you," exclaimed Shelby, " if you want quarters, 
throw down your arms !" \ Benjamin Sharp, of Camp- 

* Shelby's narrative, 1823 ; General Graham's statement ; certificate of John Long, of 
Shelby's men. 

t Statement of Colonel George W.Sevier. 

X Certificate of John Sharp, of Shelby's regiment, 1823. 


bell's regiment, who witnessed this scene, thus describes it : 
" At the close of the action, when the British were loudly 
calling for quarters, but uncertain whether they would be 
granted, I saw the intrepid Shelby i-ush his horse within 
fifteen paces of their lines, and command them to lay down 
their arms, and they should have quarters. Some would 
call this an imprudent act ; but it showed the daring bravery 
cf the man." * 

Andrew Evius, a member of Captain William Edmond- 
son's company, of the Virginia regiment, was, with others, 
still firing on the demoralized Tories, when Colonel Camp- 
bell came running up, and knocked up the soldier's gun, 
exclaiming — " Evins, for God's sake, don't shoot! It is 
murder to kill them now, for they have raised the flag!"f 
Campbell, as he rushed along, repeated the order — " Cease 
firing ! — for God's sake, cease firing ! "' \ Thus was Colonel 
Campbell mercifully engaged in saving the discomfited 
Loyalists from further effusion of blood — no officer could 
have acted more tender or humane ; and he passed on 
around the prisoners, on foot, still seeking to promote their 
safety and protection. 

Captain DePeyster, who had succeeded Ferguson in 
the command, sitting on his grey horse, expostulated with 
Colonel Campbell, referring to the firing on his flag — " Col- 
onel Campbell, it was d — d unfair," and then repeated it; 
but Campbell, probably thinking it no time to bandy words 
with the British leader, simply ordered him to dismount ; 
and called out, "officers, rank by yourselves; prisoners, 
take off" your hats, and sit down." § The enemy at this 
time had been driven into a group of sixty yards in length, 
and less than forty in width. || The mountaineers were 
ordered to close up in surrounding the prisoners, first 

* American Pioneer, Febtuary, 1843, 6g. 

•^ Evins' statement. 1823. 

\ Letter of General George Rutledge, May 27th, 1813. 

g James Crow's statement, .May 6, 1813. 

11 General Graham's narrative. 


in one continuous circle, then double guards, and finally 
four deep. * Colonel Campbell then proposed to his troops 
three huzzas for Liberty, which were gi\-en in hearty 
acclaim, making the welkin ring, and the hills resound, with 
their shouts of victory, f 

An occurrence now transpired, that, for a few moments, 
changed the whole scene in that quarter ; and threatened, 
for a brief period, the most tragic consequences. It is 
known, as a British account relates it, tliat " a small party 
of the Loyal militia returning from foraging, unacquainted 
with the surrender, happening to fire on the Rebels, the 
prisoners were immediately threatened with death, if the 
firing should be repeated."} Whether it was the volley 
from this party, who probably scampered off; or whether 
from some of the Tories in the general huddle, exasperated 
perhaps that proper respect was not instantly paid to their 
flag, now fired upon, and mortally wounded Colonel Wil- 
liams, who was riding towards the British encampment ; 
and, wheeling back, said to William Moore, one of Camp- 
bell's regiment — " I'm a gone man !" § 

Colonel Campbell was close at hand when this un- 
happy event transpired ; and doubtless reasoned, that if the 
fatal firing proceeded from an outside partj', it was the pre- 
cursor of Tarleton's expected relief ; if from the surrendered 
Tories, at least some considerable portion of them were in- 
clined to spring a trap on the Whigs, shoot down their leaders, 
and make a bold attempt to escape, when the patriots were 
measurably off their guard, and least prepared for it ; and 
acting on the spur of the moment, he resolved on stern 
military tactics to quell the intended mutiny, by instantly 

* Captain Christopher Taylor's statement : conversations with John Spelts, 

"rSlatements of John Craig; MS. narrative of Robert Henry. 

\ South Carolina Gazette, Decemher 20, 1780; ^TiA Scof s Magazine, Jannary, 1781. 
The editor of the Gazette evidently derived his statement from Lieutenant Allaire, of Fer- 
guson's Rangers, judging from a comparison of the details there given, with a more elabor- 
ate narrative in Rivington's Royal Gazette, New York, February 24, 1781, which General 
J. Watts DePeyster attributes, from internal evidence, to that officer, and which Lieutenant 
Allaire's MS. Di.iry fully corroborates. 

3 Statement of William Moore. 


ordering the men near him — the* men of Williams and 
Brandon's command — to fire upon the enemy. The order 
was quickly obeyed by the soldiers who had been so 
treacherously deprived of their intrepid leader ; " and," said 
Lieutenant Joseph Hughes, one of Brandon's part}^ "we 
killed near a hundred of them." But the probabilities are, 
that those who fired, and those who suffered from it, were 
not very numerous. It was, however, a sad affair ; and in 
the confusion of the moment, its origin and its immediate 
effects were probably little understood by either party ; and 
doubtless Colonel Campbell himself deeply regretted the 
order he had given to fire upon an unresisting foe. * 

=*' These particulars may be somewhat erroneous and exaggerated; but there must be 
a basis of truth in them. It is due to the high reputation that Colonel Hughes sustained in 
his day, to accord candor and good intentions to his statements generally. In his pension 
application, in 1833, he briefly states: "Was at King's Mountain, where General Williams 
was mortally wounded, after the British had raised their flag to surrender, by a fire from 
some Tories. Colonel Campbell then ordered a fire on the Tories, and we killed near a 
hundred of them after the surrender of the British, and could hardly be restrained from 
killing the whole of them." 

That Colonel Hughes' statements are worthy of respect, a brief reference to some of 
the more salient points of hi? Revolutionary services, and the good character he bore during 
the war, and for more than half a century thereafter, are only necessary to be cited. He 
was born in what is now Chester County, South Carolina, in 1-761, his parents having 
retired there_ temporarily from the present region of Union County, on account of Indian 
troubles. He served, in 1776, on Williamson's Cherokee expedition, and subsequently in 
Georgia. Governor Rutledge, early in 1780. commissioned him a Lieutenant, and he fought 
under Sumter at Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock; and then shared in the heroic action at 
Musgrove's Mill. His dare-devil character, ?nd adventurous services, in the up-country 
region of South Carolina, during the summer and autumn of 1780, have already been related. 
In one of these Tory encounters, Hughes had a lock of hair cut from his head, Captain 
Samuel Otterson a slight wound on his chin, while a third person received a cut across his 
cheek — all from the same shot. 

Then we find him taking part, in the memorable engagements at King's Mountain, 
Hammond's Store, and Cowpens. Though yet a Lieutenant, he commanded his company 
in this latter action. He was not only a man of great personal strength, but of remarkable 
fleetness on foot. As his men, with others, broke at the Cowpens, and fled before Tarleton's 
cavalry; and though receiving a sabre cut across his right hand, yet with his drawn 
sword, he would out-run his men, and passing them, face about, and command them to 
stand, striking right and left to enforce obedience to orders; often repeating with a loud 
voice : " You d — d cowards, halt and fight — there is more danger in running than in fight- 
ing, and if you don't stop and fight, you will all be killed !" But most of them were for 
awhile too demoralized to realize the situation, or obey the commands of their officers. As 
they would scamper off, Hughes would renewedly pursue, and once more gaining their 
front, would repeat his tactics to bring them to their duty. At length the company was 
induced to make a stand, on the brow of a slope, some distance from the battle-line, be- 
hind a clump of young pines that partially concealed and protected them from Tarleton's 
cavalry. Others now joined them for self-protection. Their guns were quickly loaded, 


The firing upon the British and Tories was at length 
suppressed. Colonel Shelby, fearing that the enemy might 
3^et, perhaps, feel constrained, in self-defence, to resume 
their arms, and which they could with such facility snatch 
up as they lay before them, exclaimed : *' Good God ! what 
can we do in this confusion ?" '' We can order the prison- 
ers from their arms" said Captain Sawyers. ''Yes," re- 
sponded Shelby, "that can be done''; and the prisoners 
were accordingly forthwith marched to another place, with 
a strong guard placed around them. * 

The surviving British leaders were prompt to surrender 
their swords to the first American officer that came near 
them. Ferguson's sword was picked up on the ground ; 
and, according to one account, it passed into Colonel 
Cleveland's possession ; but with more probability, accord- 
ing to others, it fell into the hands of Colonel Sevier. Cap- 
tain DePeyster delivered his sword, as some assert, to 
Colonel Campbell ; while others declare it was to Major 
Evan Shelby. Captain Ryerson, who was wounded, ten- 
dered his swoi'd to Lieutenant Andrew Kincannon, of 

and they were themselves again. Morgan galloped up and spoke words of encourage- 
ment to them. The next moment the British cavalry were at them ; but the Whigs re- 
served their fire till the enemy were so near, that it was terribly effective, emptying many 
a British saddle, when the survivors recoiled. Now Colonel Washington gaVe them a 
charge — the battle was restored, when Howard and his Marylanders with the bayonet 
swept the field. Such is the account related by Christopher Brandon to Daniel Wallace. 
Tarleton acknowledges, that " an unexpected fire from the Americans, who came about as 
they were retreating, stopped the British, and threw them into confusion," when a panic 
ensued, and then a general flight. It was a high and woithy compliment from his old 
commander, Colonel Brandon, who declared, that, at the Cowpens, " Hughes saved ike 
fate of the day." 

As a deserved recognition of these meritorious services, he was promoted to a Cap- 
taincy early in 1781, when he was scarcely twenty years of age ; and led his company with 
characteristic valor, at the battle of Eutaw Springs, The Tories had killed his father 
during the war, and many a dear friend, and his animosity against the whole race was 
alike bitter and unrelenting. In 1825, he removed to Alabama, first to Green County, and 
then to Pickens, where he died, in September, 1834, in his seventy-fourth year. For more 
than twenty of the closing years of his life, he was an elder in the Presbyterian church ; 
and the rough, and almost tiger-like partisan, became as humble and submissive as a lamb. 
He rose to the rank of Colonel in the militia. He was tall and commanding in his appearance, 
jovial and affable in conversation ; yet his early military training rendered him, to the Inst. 
stern and rigid in discipline. In all that makes up the man, he was a noble specimen of the 
Revolutionary hero. 

'■'Ramsey's Tennessee, 239; MS, correspondence of Dr. Ramsey. 


Campbell's regiment, who was, at that moment, endeavor- 
ing to check the firing on the surrendered Tories ; but not 
regarding himself as the proper officer to receive this ten- 
der of submission, the Lieutenant, without due reflection, 
courteously invited the British Captain to be seated ; who 
looking around, and seeing no seat, promptly squatted 
himself upon the ground, Kincannon entering into conver- 
sation with him. Adjutant Franklin, of Cleveland's regi- 
ment, now coming up, received Ryerson's sword, the latter 
remarking: "You deserve it, sir!"* Colonel Campbell 
was stalking around among the enemy in his shirt sleeves, 
and his collar open, and when some of the Americans 
pointed him out as their commander, the British, at first, 
from his unmilitary plight, seemed to doubt it, but a number 
of officers now surrendered their swords to him, until he 
had several in his hands, and under his arm.f 

It is proper to advert briefly to Ferguson's conduct in 
the battle. It was that of a hero. He did all that mortal 
man could have done, under the circumstances, to avert the 
impending catastrophe. He was almost ubiquitous — his 
voice, his presence, and his whistle everywhere animated 
his men, either to renew their bayonet charges, or maintain 
a firm stand against the steadily encroaching mountaineers. 
But he tiiisted too much to the bayonet against an enemy as 
nimble as the antelope. % " He had," says Doctor Ferguson, 
" two horses killed under him, while he remained untouched 
himself; but he afterwards received a number of wounds, 
of which, it is said, any one was mortal, and dropping from 
his horse, expired, while his foot yet hung in the stirrup." § 
This, if we may credit Lee's Memoirs of the War in the 

'■'Judge J. F. Graves' sketch of his grandfather, Jesse Franklin, in the second series of 
Caruthers' Incidents in the Old Kortk State, pp. 203-4 ', ^^S. statement of Elijah Callaway ; 
MS. correspondence of Dr. A. N. Kincannon, of Missouri, and John L. Worth, of Mt. 
Airy. N. C. 

I Lieutenant William Russell, James Snodgrass, James Keys. David Campbell, Henry 
Dickenson, and David Beattic, of CampbelFs regiment, and William King, and George 
Rutledge. of Shelby's men. 

J Johnson's Greene, i. 306. 

^Memoir of Colonel Ferguson, -^2' 


Souths and Burk's History of Virginia, happened after 
fifty minutes' fighting ; or some ten or fifteen minutes before 
the final close of the action ; and about three minutes before 
the flag was displayed for surrender, according to Thomas 
Maxwell, one of Shelby's men. 

As long as Ferguson lived, his unyielding spirit scorned 
to surrender. He persevered until he received his mortal 
wounds. His fall very naturally disheartened his followers. 
For some time before that fatal event, there was really nothing 
to encourage them, save the faintest hope which they vainly 
cherished of momentary relief from Tarleton. Animated 
by the brave example of their heroic leader, and, still con- 
fiding in his fruitful mihtary resources, they had maintained 
the unequal contest under all disadvantages. Losing his 
inspiration, they lost all — with him perished the last hope 
of success. * 

Colonel Ferguson not only made a sad mistake in delaj'- 
ing a single moment at Kinjr's mountain with a view to a 
passage at arms with his pursuers ; but he committed, if pos- 
sible, a still more grievous error in the supposed strength of 
his position. •' His encampment," says the South Carolina 
historian, Ramsay, " on the top of the mountain was not 
well chosen, as it gave the Americans an opportunity of 
covering themselves in their approaches. Had he pursued 
his march on charging and driving the first part}^ of the 
militia which gave way, he might have got oflf with the 
most of his men ; but his unconquerable spirit disdained 
either to flee or to surrender." The historian, Gordon, takes 
the same view : " Major Ferguson was overseen in making 
his stand on the mountain, which, being much covered with 
woods, gave the militia, who were all riflemen, the oppor- 
tunity of approaching near, with greater safety to themselves 
than if they had been upon plain, open ground. The Major, 
however, might have made good his retreat, if not with the 
whole, at least with a great part of his men, had he pursued 

* Stedman's A. 

77ierzca n 


his march immediately upon his charging and driving 
the first detachment ; for though the mihtia acted with spirit 
for undiscipHned troops, it was with difficulty that they could 
he prevailed upon to renew their attack, after being charged 
with the bayonet. They kept aloof, and continued popping ; 
then gathered round, and crept nearer, till, at length, they 
leveled the Major with one of their shots." 

General Simon Bernard, one of the most distinguished 
engineers, and aids-de-camp of the great Napoleon, and sub- 
sequently in the United States engineer service, on examin- 
ing the battle-ground of King's Mountain, said: "The 
Americans, by their victory in that engagement, erected a 
monument to perpetuate the brave men who had fallen 
there ; and the shape of the hill itself would be an eternal 
monument of the militar}^ genius and skill of Colonel Fer- 
guson, in selecting a position so well adapted for defence; 
and that no .other plan of assault but that pursued by the 
mountain-men, could have succeeded against him." * 

One of our best historical critics. General DePeyster, 
observes: "Ferguson set an inordinate value on the posi- 
tion which he had selected, which, however strong against 
a regular attack, was not defensible against the attacks 
which were about to be directed upon it. How grievously 
he erred as to the intrinsic availability of King's Mountain 
as a military position, was evinced by his remark that ' all 
the Rebels from h — 1 could not drive him from it.' It is true, 
he was not driven from it ; but its bald, rocky summit 
merely served, like the sacrificial stone of the Aztecs, for 
the immolation of the victims." \ 

The historian, Lossing, who visited the battle-field thirty 
odd years ago, justly observes: "It was a strange place 
for an encampment or a battle, and to one acquainted with 
the region, it is difficult to understand why Ferguson and 
his band were there at all." % 

'■•' Ramsey's History of Tennessee, 239. 
t Historical Magazine. March, 1S69. 194. 
\ Pictorial Field Book 0/ the Revolution, ii, 423. 


It is useless to speculate on what might have changed 
the fate of the day ; yet a few suggestions ma}^ not be out of 
place in this connection. Trivial circumstances, on critical 
occasions, not unfrequently produce the most momentous 
consequences. Had Tarleton, for instance, suddenly made 
his appearance before or during the battle — had the detach- 
ment at Gibbs' plantation, near the Covvpens, or Moore's 
foraging party, vigorously attacked the mountaineers in the 
rear, during the progress of the engagement, and especially 
during the confusion consequent upon the repulses of Camp- 
bell's and Shelby's columns ; or had Ferguson chosen 
suitable ground on the plains, and in the woods, where his 
men could have availed themselves of shelter for their pro- 
tection, and fought on an equality with their antagonists, 
the result might have been very different, and Ferguson 
have been the hero of the hour — and, it may be, the fate of 
American Independence sealed. But in God's good 
Providence, such a fatal blow was not in store for the 
suffering patriots. 

Most of the accounts repi'esent that the British Colonel 
was killed out-right. He is said to have received six or 
eight bullet holes in his body — one penetrating his thigh, 
another re-shattering his right arm just above the elbow ; 
and yet he continued to raise his sword in his left hand,* till 
a rifle ball piercing his head, put an end to further fighting 
or consciousness, f In faUing from his horse, or while 

'■'MS, statement of Elijah Callaway, in 1842. 

-{-Ramsay, Gordon, Smith, in his American War, Moultrie, Judge James, Mills and 
Foote are among the American writers, who unite in declaring that Ferguson "received a 
mortal wound." Stedman, Mackenzie, and Lamb, British writers, all ot whom were con- 
nected with the British service at the lime, make the same assertion. The Columbian 
Magazine, 1792, p. 323, states also that he received a mortal wound. Dr. John Whelchel, 
of Williams' men, asserts in his pension statement, that Ferguson " fell mortally wounded ; " 
and William White, of Lacey's regiment, in his pension application, says " he was mortally 
wounded, and died a short time afterwards." 

The place where Ferguson fell is indicated on the diagram of the battle-field, near the 
brow of the south eastern portion of the mountain, opposite to McDowell's column, but 
probably where Sevier's men had advanced at the close of the conflict, when the enemy 
had been forced to that quarter. That locality was pointed out, fjlly fifty years ago, by 
William Logan, a survivor of the battle, to his grandson, the present Col. J. R. Logan, and 
in which, Arthur Patterson, a cotemporary of the Revolution, and familiar with King's 
Mountain all his life, coincided. 


being conveyed to the rear, a silver whistle dropped from 
his vest pocket, which was picked up by one of his soldiers, 
Elias Powell, who preserved it many years;* and Powell, 
and three others, as John Spelts relates, were seen, at the 
close of the surrender, bearing off, in a blanket, their fallen 
chief to a spring near the mountain's brow, on the southern 
side of the elevation ; and there gently bolstered him up 
with rocks and blankets. One of the Tories, who had just 
grounded his gun, taking in the situation, and true to his 
plundering instincts, ran up, and was in the act of thrusting 
his hand into the dying man's pockets, when the unfeeling 
intruder was repelled by one of the attendants, who, rudely 
pushing him away, exclaimed with a sarcastic oath — " Are 
you going to rob the dead ? " f A little after, Colonel Shelby 
rode up, and thinking perhaps that Ferguson might yet be 
sensible of what was said to him — though he evidently was 
not — ^exclaimed : " Colonel, the fatal blow is struck — we've 
Burgoyned you?" X The life of this restless British leader 
soon ebbed away. Some of the more thoughtless of the 
Whig soldiery, it is said, committed an act which we would 
fain be excused from the pain of recording. " The moun- 
taineers, it is reported, used everj^ insult and indignity, after 
the action, towards the dead body of Major Ferguson." § 

So curious were the Whigs to see the fallen British 
chief, that many repaired to the spot to view his body as it 
lay in its gore and glory. Lieutenant Samuel Johnson, of 
Cleveland's regiment, who had been severely disabled in 
the action, desired to be carried there, that he, too, might 

'■= Powell was one of the young men induced to enlist under Ferguson's banner, and 
became much attached to his commander. He was taken prisoner to Hillsboro, where 
he was paroled, and returned to his widowed mother, who lived at what is known as 
Powellton, two miles east of Lenoir, Caldwell County, on the western frontier of North 
Carolina, There he lived until his death. May 5th, 1832. The silver whistle then went to 
one of his decendants, who removed West, and having since died, the relic has been lost 
sight of. John Spelts related, that Ferguson had a yet larger silver whistle, a foot in length, 
which fell into the hands of Colonel Shelby. 

f Statement of Spelts, 

I Related by Spelts and Thomas H, Shelby, a son of the Colonel. 

g Tarleton's Catnpnigns^ 165. 


look upon the dying or lifeless leader of the enemy whom he 
had so valiantly fought ; when Colonel Cleveland, and two 
of the soldiers, bore the wounded Lieutenant to the place 
of pilgrimage ; * and even the transfixed Robert Henry, amid 
his pains and suflferings, could not repress his curiosity to 
take a look at Ferguson. It was probably where he was 
conveyed, and breathed his last, that he was buried — on 
the south-eastern declivity of the mountain, where his mortal 
remains, wrapped, not in a military cloak, or hero's coffin, 
but in a raw beef's hide, f found a peaceful sepulture. 

The tradition in that region has been rife for more than 
fifty years, that Ferguson had two mistresses with him, per- 
haps nominally cooks — both fine looking 3'oung women. 
One of them, known as Virginia Sal, a red haired lady, it is 
related, was the first to fall in the battle, and was buried in 
the same grave with Ferguson, as some assert ; or, as others 
have it, beside the British and Tory slain ; while the other, 
Virginia Paul, survived the action ; and after it was over, 
was seen to ride around. the camp as unconcerned as though 
nothing of unusual moment had happened. She was con- 
veyed with the prisoners at least as far as Burke Court 
House, now Morganton, North Carolina, and subsequently 
sent to Lord Cornwallis' army. \ 

That almost envenomed hate which the mountaineers 
cherished towards Ferguson and his Tory followers, nerved 
them to marvellous endurance while engaged in the battle. 
They had eaten little or nothing since they left the Cowpens 
some eighteen hours before — much of the time in the rain, 
protecting their rifles and ammunition by divesting them- 
selves of their blankets or portions of their clothing ; and they 
had been, since leaving Green river, for over forty hours, 
without rest or repose. "I had no shoes," said Thomas 
Young, " and of course fought in the battle barefoot, and, 

■■■ Statement of Lewis Johnson, a son of the Lieutenant. 
+ MS. letter of Dr. W.J. T. Miller, July 30, 1880. 

t MSS. of Dr. John H. Logan; MS. letters of James J. Hampton, Dr. C, L. Hunter, 
Colonel J. R. Logan, and Dr. W. J. T. Miller. 


when it was over, my feet were much lacerated and bleed- 
ing." * Others, too, must have suffered from the flinty rocks 
over which they hurriedly passed and re-passed during the 
engagement. As an instance of the all-absorbing effect of 
the excitements surrounding them, when the next morning 
the mountaineers were directed to discharge their guns, " I 
fired my large old musket," said Young, " charged in time 
of the battle with two musket balls, as I had done every time 
during the engagement ; and the recoil, in this case, was 
dreadful, but I had not noticed it in the action." f 

Taking it for granted that the Loj'alist force under 
Ferguson at King's Mountain was eight hundred, it may 
be interesting to state what little is known of the respective 
numbers from the two Caroljnas. In Lieutenant Allaire's 
newspaper narrative, he refers to the North Carolina regi- 
ment, commanded by Colonel Ambrose Mills, as number- 
ing " about three hundred men." A Loyalist writer in the 
London Political Afagazine, for April, 1783, who appar- 
ently once resided in the western part of North Carolina, 
asserts that the Loyalists of the Salisbury district — which 
embraced all the western portion of the North Province — - 
who were with Ferguson, numbered four hundred and 
eighty. Deducting the absent foraging party under Colonel 
Moore, who was a North Carolinian, and whose detachment 
may be presumed to have been made up of men from that 
Province, we shall have about the number mentioned by 
Allaire remaining. This would suggest that about three 
hundred and twenty was the strength of the South Carolina 

As the North Carolina Tories were the first to give way, 
according to Allaire, and precipitate the defeat that followed, 
it only goes to prove that they were the hardest pressed by 
Campbell and Shelby, which is quite probable ; or, that the 
South Carolinians had been longest drilled for the service, 

*Rev. James H. Saye's MS. conversations with Thomas Young, of Union County, 
South Carolina, March 27, 1843. 
+ Saye's MSS. 


and were consequently best prepared to maintain their 
ground. It is not a little singular, that so few of the promi- 
nent Loyalist leaders, of the Ninety Six district, were pre- 
sent with Ferguson — only Colonel Vesey Husband, of 
whom we have no knowledge, and who, we suppose, was 
in some way associated with the South Carolina Tories, to- 
gether with Majors Lee and Plummer. Where were the 
other Loyalist leaders of that region — Colonels Cunningham, 
Kirkland, and Clarj', Lieutenant-Colonels Philips and 
Turner, and Majors Gibbs, Hill, and Hamilton ? Some 
were doubtless with the partj' whom the Whigs had passed 
at Major Gibbs' plantation, near the Cowpens, or possibly 
with Colonel Moore's detachment ; others were scattered 
here and there on furlough ; but they were not at King's 
Mountain, when sorely needed, with all the strength they 
could have brought to the indefatigable Ferguson. That 
freebooter. Fanning, with his Tory foragers, who were 
beating about the country, fell in with Ferguson five days 
before his defeat ; * but preferring their independent bush- 
whacking service, they escaped the King's Mountain 

Paine, in his American Crisis, berated the Loyalists as 
wanting in manhood and bravery, declaring: " I should 
not be afraid to go with an hundred Whigs against a thous- 
and Tories. Every Tory is a coward, for a servile, slavish, 
self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism ; and a 
man under such influence, though he may be cruel, can 
never be brave." Yet, it must be confessed, that the 
Loyalists evinced no little pluck and bravery at King's 
Mountain. But they had been specially fitted for the 
service, and under the eye of a superior drill-master, as few 
Americans had been in either army ; and it had been justly 
said, that, on this occasion, they fought with halters around 
their necks ; and they, too, were expert riflemen. 

The British Southern leaders were not only surprised 

'■' Fanning's Narrative, 13. 


and amazed beyond measure, but were filled with alarm at 
the unexpected appearance of so formidable a force — 
largely exaggerated as it was — -from border settlements 
of which they had not so much as heard of their existence. 
Lord Rawdon, in his letter of October twenty-fourth, 1780, 
referring to Ferguson's miscarriage, and the men who 
confronted and defeated him, says: " A numerous army 
now appeared on the frontier, drawn from Nolachucky, 
and other settlements beyond the mountains, whose very 
names had been unknown to us ; " and Mackenzie, one 
of Tarleton's officers, probabl}^ mistaking Nolachucky, in 
what is now East Tennessee, for Kentucky, states in his 
Strictures : "The wild and fierce inhabitants of Kentucky, 
and other settlements westward of the Alleghany mount- 
ains, under Colonels Campbell and Boone," then naming 
the other leaders, " assembled suddenly and silently ; " and 
adding, that these mountaineers " advanced with the inten- 
tion to seize upon a quantity of Indian presents, which they 
understood were but slightly guarded at Augusta, and which 
were, about that time, to have been distributed among a 
body of Creek and Cherokee Indians assembled at that 

This erroneous statement -of Mackenzie's has been 
adopted by Stedman in his History of the Atnerican War, 
and by Dr. Ferguson, in his Memoir of Colonel Ferguson. 
So cridcal a student of American history as Gen. J. W. 
DePeyster, has fallen into the error, that the ' ' dark and 
bloody ground" of Kentucky contributed her quota of 
fighting men for King's Mountain battle.* But none of the 
King's Mountain men came from that region, though many 
of them subsequently became permanent settlers there ; and 
so far from Colonel Boone having participated in the cam- 
paign, he was hundreds of miles away, in his beloved 
Kentucky. The day before King's Mountain battle, while 
he and his brother, Edward Boone, were out buffalo hunting, 

=!' Historical Magazine, March, 1869. p. T90. 


the latter was shot dead by a party of Indians, concealed in 
a cane-brake, some fifteen or twenty miles from Boonesboro, 
and the former made good his escape to that settlement ; 
and, the day of the contest on King's Mountain, he was with 
a party in pursuit of the Indians who laad killed his brother. 
Nor is it in any sense true, that the plunder of Indian goods 
at Augusta was their object — all the facts go to disprove anj^ 
such intention. This, however, seems to have been one of 
the motives held out by Colonel Clarke to his men in his 
attack on Augusta, as stated by Lee in his Memoirs. 

There is no great discrepancy among the different 
authorities as to the length of time occupied by the engage- 
ment — if we discard, as we must, Mills' inordinate mistake, 
that "the battle began between eight and nine o'clock in 
the morning, and lasted till night." A writer in the 
Virginia Argus, of December eleventh, 1805, evidently a 
survivor of Campbell's men, says, " in forty-two minutes we 
made tliem beg for quarters," referring, doubtless, to the 
time of Ferguson's fall, and the running up of the white 
flag. General Davidson, in his letter to General Sumner, 
states, three days after the action, on the authority of 
Major Tate, of Lacej^'s corps, who was in the engage- 
ment, that it lasted "forty-seven minutes." Lee, in his 
History of the Soitthern Campaigns, who was subsequently 
associated in service with Campbell, declares that after 
"the battle had raged for fifty minutes,'' Ferguson was 
shot, when the fire of the enemy slackened, and their sur- 
render followed. Burk, in his History of Virginia, makes 
the same statement. This fixes the time, as nearly as we 
can ascertain it, when Ferguson fell. There would seem 
to have been but little resistance on the part of the enemy 
after the loss of their commander ; it could have been pro- 
longed a few minutes only at m.ost. Both Tarleton and 
Stedman, British authorities, state that the action lasted 
" near an hour." 

In Colonel Shelby's letter to his father, written October 
twelfth, 1780, he sa3rs : " the battle continued warm for an 


hour ; " and he wrote the same day to Colonel Arthur 
Campbell, that " the firing was kept up with fury, on both 
sides, for near an hour." But Campbell, Shelby, and 
Cleveland, in their official account, assert that " a flag was 
hoisted by Captain DePeyster, their commanding officer — 
Major Ferguson having been killed a little while before ; " 
that " the engagement lasted an hour and five minutes." The 
British Captain Ryerson who shared in the contest, states in 
his account in Rivingston's New York Royal Gazette^ of 
March twentj^-first, 1781 , that " the action lasted an hour and 
five minutes, very hot indeed ; " and Lieutenant Allaire, an- 
other British contestant, says, in his newspaper narrative, 
that " the action was severe for upwards of an hour ; " and, 
in his MS. Diary, he is more explicit, stating that it lasted " an 
hour and five minutes." The probabilities are that Doctor 
Johnson, who timed by his watch the last desperate attack 
of Campbell's and Shelby's corps, also noted the duration 
of the battle, from its commencement to the final suppression 
of the firing on the Tories ; and that Campbell and his 
associates derived from him their knowledge of the length 
of the engagement, and which may be regarded as correct. 
The exact strength and losses of the British at King's 
Mountain can only be approximately determined. Fer- 
guson's Rangers may be set down at one hundred — though 
they may have somewhat exceeded that figure. The 
general estimate is, in round numbers, one thousand militia 
or Loyalists, which would make a total of eleven hundred ; 
or, perhaps eleven hundred and twenty-five, as the American 
official report has it, founded on the provision returns of that 
day. In General Lenoir's account it is stated, that "not 
a single man of them escaped that was in camp at the 
commencement of the battle." This is probably true, and 
goes to show that the party of foragers who returned at the 
close of the battle and fired on the Americans, mortally 
wounding Colonel Williams, had left previously without 
coming under this category. It is pretty evident that 
a detachment left camp that morning — doubtless on a for- 


aging expedition ; and this returning party were probably 
a portion of the number. Gordon, in his American War. 
usually good authority, says four hundred and forty escaped ; 
and Haywood's Tennessee gives the same statement, evi- 
dently copied from Gordon ; while Mills' Statisties of South 
Carolina gives the number as three hundred. Judge 
Johnson, in \\\^ Life of General Greene^ says two hundred 
escaped ; and this accords with the statement of Alexander 
Greer, one of Sevier's men, who adds that they were under 
Colonel Moore,* perhaps the Tor}^ commander at Ram- 

* Whether Colonel John or Patrick Moore is the one referred to, is not certain — prob- 
ably the former, as Colonel Ferguson seemed not to have formed a good opinion of the 
conduct of Patrick Moore in failing to defend Thicketty Fort the preceding July. Moses 
Moore, the father of Colonel John Moore, was a native of Carlisle, England, whence he 
migrated to Virginia in 1745, marrying a Miss Winston, near Jamestown, in that Province ; 
and in 1753, settling in what is now Gaston County, North Carolina, eight miles west of 
Lincolnton. Here John Moore was born; and being a frontier country, when old enough 
he was sent to Granville County, in that Province, for his education. When the Revolution 
broke out, he became a zealous Loyalist ; and led a party of Tories from Tryon County, in 
February, 1779, to Georgia, and uniting with Colonel Boyd on the way, they were defeated 
by Colonel Pickens at Kettle Creek. Boyd was mortally wounded, and Moore escaped to 
the British army in that quarter ; and is said to have participated in the defence of Savan- 
nah. In December following, he was in the service near Moscley's Ferry, on the Ogeechee. 
He subsequently returned to North Carolina, a Lieutenant-Colonel in Hamilton's 
corps of Loyalists, and prematurely embodied a Tory force, near Camp Branch, about half 
a mile west of his father's residence ; thence marched about six miles north to Tory 
Branch, and thence to Ramsour's Mill, on the South Fork, where he was disastrously 
defeated. June 20th, 1780, escaping with thirty others to Camden His regiment, the 
Royal North Carolinians, participated in Gates' defeat, losing three killed and fourteen 
wounded -among the latter, Colonel Hamilton. It is doubtful if Moore participated in the 
action, as he was about that time under suspension, threatened with a court martial for 
disobedience of orders in raising the Loyalists at Ramsour's before thetime appointed by 
Lord Cornwallis ; but it was at length deemed impolitic to bring him to trial. Escaping 
from King's Mountain, we next find him with Captain Waters, and a body of Tories, 
defeated by Colonel Washington at Hammond's Store, South Carolina, December 28th, 
1780 Thoueh a family tradition coming down from a sister to her grandson, John H. 
Roberts, of Gaston County, represents that Moore went to Carlisle. England, and was lost 
track of: yet the better opinion is founded on a statement by a North Carolina Loyalist, 
piihli<;hed in the Pah'ticnl Ma^azinP. London, April. 1783. that he was taken prisoner by 
Colonel Wade Hampton, near the Wateree, and hanged. Ke left no family. 

A few words about Colonel Patrick Mooff^ may not be inappropriate in this connection. 
He was of Irish descent, and a native of Virginia. He early .settled on Thicketty creek in 
the north-western part of South Carolina, where he commanded Fort Anderson or Thicketty 
Fort, which he surrendered, without firing a gun to Colnnel Shelby and associates. He 
was subsequently captured by a party of Americans, according to the tradition in his 
family, near Ninety Six. and was supposed to have been killed by his captors, as his remains 
were afterwards found, and recognized bv his ereat height — six feet and seven inches. His 
death probably occurred in t-j8i. He left a widow, who survived many years, a son and 
three daughters; and hjis decendants in South Carolina and Georgia are very worthy 


sour's Mill. Joseph Kerr, one of Williams' men, after 

enumerating the killed and prisoners of the enemy, adds 

" the balance escaped." General Alexander Smythe, who 
lived on the Holston, said in a speech in Congress, in 1829, 
" only twenty-one escaped " — referring, perhaps, to that 
party of foragers who mortally wounded Colonel Williams. 
Andrews, in his History of the War, says "very few 
escaped ;" and Tarleton mentions about picking up some 
of the fugitives. 

We may conclude that Moore's foraging detachment 
numbered about two hundred ; which would have left about 
nine hundred altogether under Ferguson with whom to 
fight the battle. The British Lieutenant Allaire says, the 
Loyalists consisted of eight hundred, and Ferguson's corps 
of one hundred, * which tallies pretty well with Tarleton's 
account in his Southern Campaigns, of about one thousand 
Loyal militia, supposing that two hundred of them were on 
detached service at the time of the battle ; and it agrees 
also with Lord Rawdon's statement, made towards the close 
of October, that Ferguson had "about eight hundred 
militia " in the engagement — to this, of course, should be 
added his one hundred Provincial Rangers. Allaire, and 
other British writers,, assuming as true that the exaggerated 
account of the entire Whig strength, including those in the 
rear, was well-nigh three thousand, assign as a reason of 
their overwhelming defeat, the great superiority of their 
antagonists — three to one, as they assert, against them. In 
point of fact, the numbers of the opposing forces were about 
equal ; and it was their persistency, their pluck, and excel- 
ling in the use of the rifle, that gave the mountaineers the 

Both in Allaire's New York Gazette and MS. Diary 

* Allaire's account in the New York Royal Gazette, February 24, 1781 : and in his MS. 
Diary, kindly communicated by his grandson, J, DeLancey Robinson, of New Brunswick. 
Stfedman gives Ferguson's as nine hundred and sixty; Mrs. Warren, in her History of the 
Revolution, eight hundred and fifty. The British historian. Andrews, in his History of tlie 
JVa-r, still further diminishes the number — killed and wounded upwards of three hundred, 
and four hundred prisoners. 


accounts, he states that the British lost on the field and 
in prisoners, as follows : Of the Provincial corps, Colonel 
Ferguson, Lieutenant McGinnis and eighteen privates, 
total, twenty killed ; Captain Ryerson and thirty-two Ser- 
geants and privates, total, thirty-three wounded — making the 
killed and wounded together, fifty-three ; two Captains, 
four Lieutenants, three Ensigns, one Surgeon, and fifty-four 
Sergeants and privates, including the wounded, making a 
total of sixty-four prisoners — showing, according to this 
account, only thirty-one of Ferguson's corps who escaped 
being killed or wounded. This, however, is a manifest 
error, for the fiftj^-three killed and wounded, and thirty-one 
uninjured men would add up only eighty-four, whereas. 
Lieutenant Allaire concedes that there were, at the com- 
mencement of the battle, one hundred of Ferguson's corps. 
In this estimate of prisoners, he did not probably include 
the survivors of Lieutenant Taylor's twenty dragoons, and 
ten wagoners, taken from the Rangers — more than enough 
to make up the full complement assigned to the Provin- 
cials by that officer. He also states, that the Loyalists 
lost "in officers and privates, one hundred killed, ninety 
wounded, and about six hundred prisoners." Reckoning 
the prisoners at six hundred and ten, and the killed and 
wounded as Allaire reports them, would make up the full 
amount of the supposable Tory force — eight hundred. 

It is stated in the official report of Campbell and his 
associates, that of Ferguson's corps nineteen were killed, 
and thirty-five wounded — exceeding Allaire's account by 
one only ; but making of the officers and privates sixty- 
eight prisoners, which would seem to have included onl}^ a 
part of the wounded ; that the Tories had two hundred and 
six killed, one hundred and twenty-eight wounded, and 
forty-eight ofliicers and six hundred privates made prisoners 
— thus accounting for a total of Provincials and Loyalists 
of eleven hundred and three. 

Only five days after the battle. Colonel Shelby, in a 


letter to his father, stated the loss of Ferguson's corps at 
thirty killed, twenty-eight wounded, and fifty-seven prison- 
ers ; that the Tories had one hundred and twenty-seven 
killed, one hundred and twenty-five wounded, and six 
hundred and forty -nine prisoners ; or both classed together, 
one hundred and fifty-seven killed, one hundred and fifty- 
three wounded, and seven hundred and six prisoners — total, 
one thousand and sixteen. Here is a difference of the 
killed of the Tories alone, of seventy-nine, between Shelby's 
statement to his father, and the official account, which he is 
supposed to have drawn up, and signed a few days later, in 
conjunction with Campbell and Cleveland. This discrep- 
ancy is unaccountable, except on the supposition that the 
official statement was designed, as Colonel Shelby alleges 
in his narrative of 1823, to "give tone to public report," 
and confessing, withal, that it was "inaccurate and 
indefinite." The probabilities are that the figures of the 
patriots, as to the extent of the losses of the enemy, were 
considerabl}^ over-estimated for public effect ; and that the 
prisoners were somewhat " upward of six hundred." as 
stated in General Greene's manuscripts,* and which Allaire 
practically confirms by stating that they were " about six 

" Exaggeration of successful operations," wrote Colonel 
Lee to General Greene, " was characteristic of the times ; " f 
and this was, perhaps, excusable in this instance, since a 
total defeat of the enemy, like that of Ferguson's at King's 
Mountain, was a circumstance of rare occurrence, and the 
Whigs pi-obably thought it was well to make the most of it 
to revive the drooping spirits of the people. Love of 
country predominated over any mere questions of casuistry ; 
and thus Shelby and his associates were not over-nice about 
the matter of the enemy's numbers, so that they were only 
represented sufficientlj^ large to make a decided impression 

* Greene's Life of General Greene^ iii, 78. 
■{■Greene's Greene, iii, 222. 


on the minds of all classes, encouraging the friends of free- 
dom, and equally depressing their enemies. 

Of the killed and wounded of the Americans, it is less 
difficult to get at the facts ; or at least they are not involved 
in such contradictor}^ statements as those relating to the 
British losses. Colonel Shelby, in his letter to his father, 
October twelfth, 1780, mentions six officers and twenty three 
privates killed, and fifty-four wounded ; but adds, that he 
believes, with more accurate returns, the killed will prove 
to be thirty-five, and the wounded between fifty and sixty. 
Colonel Campbell, in his letter of October twentieth, places 
the number at about thirty killed, and sixty wounded. 
In the official report, made out apparently somewhat later, 
and hence more reliable, the killed are stated at twenty- 
eight, and the wounded at sixty-two. 

In the command of Williams, Brandon, Steen and Ham- 
mond, we have no record of any loss save that of their 
gallant leader, and the person, whose name is unknown, 
who had a presentiment of his death ; and William Giles, 
as already related, slightly wounded. Among the South 
Carolinians under Lacey and Hawthorn, no killed are 
reported, save, perhaps, David Duff and William Watson, 
who probably belonged to this corps, and but one wounded, 
Robert Miller, of Chester County, who was badly disabled 
in his thigh. In both of these commands there were prob- 
ably other losses. Of the Rutherford men under Colonel 
Hampton, John Smart * and Preston Goforth were killed, 
and Major James Porter and William Robertson wounded ; 
but of McDowell's Burke County men, we have no know- 
ledge of any deaths or disabilities. 

The Lincoln County men, considering their small num- 
ber, suffered considerably in the engagement — Major 
Chronicle, Captain Mattocks, William Rabb, John Boyd, 
and Arthur Patterson, killed, and Moses Henry mortally 

* Smart was killed by a Tory named Hughes. In after years, John Smart Jr. hearing 
of Hughes in West Tennessee, started on a mission to seek the Tory's life, but never 
returned, — W. L. Twitty, 


wounded ; Lieutenant-Colonel Hambright, Captain Espey, 
Robert Henry, William Gilmer, John Chittim, * and 
William Bradley, wounded. There must have been other 
losses ; for of Captain Samuel Martin's company of about 
twenty men, he relates in his pension statement, that four 
were killed, and two mortally wounded. 

Of Sevier's regiment, William Steele, John Brown, 
and Michael Mahoney, are known to have lost their lives in 
the contest ; while Captain Sevier was mortally, and one 
Gilleland and Patrick Murphy severely wounded. Near 
the close of the action. Captain Sevier, while stooping to 
pick up his ramrod, received a buck-shot wound near his 
kidney ; after the action, the British Surgeon, Doctor 
Johnson, endeavored to extract the shot, but failed in the 
effort; dressed his wound, saying if he would remain 
quiet awhile, the shot could be extracted, and he would 
probably recover ; but if he attempted to return home at 
once, his kidneys would inflame, and about the ninth day 
he would expire. Fearing to be left behind, lest the Tories 
might wreak their vengeance on him, he started on horse- 
back for his Nolachucky home, accompanied by his 
nephew, James Sevier. On the ninth day, when at Bright's 
Place on the Yellow Mountain, preparing their frugal meal, 
he was suddenly taken worse, and died within an hour, and 
his remains, wrapped in his blanket, were interred beneath 
a lofty mountain oak. 

After the battle, among the stores captured from the 
enemy was a keg of rum, some of which was conveyed to 
the wounded Pat Murphy, with which to bathe his wound. 
He had been shot across the windpipe in front, cutting it 
considerably. Pat held the cup while a companion gave 
the wound a faithful bathmg ; this done, he swallowed the 
remainder, remarking with much sang froid, "a little in 
was as good as out." \ 

* Chittim was placed on the invahd roll of pensioners in 1815, drawing seventy-two 
dollars a year, till his death, December 24, 1818. 

f Statement of the late Major John Sevier, a son of Colonel Sevier. 


Colonel Shelby's regiment no doubt suffered from losses 
in the action ; but the particulars are wanting, save that 
Captain Shelby, William Cox, and John Fagon were 
wounded. As Shelby's men encountered hard fighting, and 
were repeatedly charged down the mountain, they must 
necessarily have lost some of their number, and had more 
wounded than the three whose names are mentioned. 

Of the Wilkes and Surry men, under Cleveland and 
Winston, we have only the names of two men killed — 
Thomas Bicknell, and Daniel Siske, of Wilkes County; 
Major Lewis, Captains Lewis, Smith, and Lenoir, Lieu- 
tenants Johnson and J. M. Smith, Charles Gordon, and 
John Childers wounded — the latter badly. Where so many 
officers were disabled, there must have been several others 
of this gallant regiment killed and wounded. 

Colonel Campbell's Virginians, who fought so nobly and 
persistently throughout the action, met with severer losses 
than any other regiment engaged in this hard day's contest. 
Of the killed were Captain William Edmondson, Lieutenants 
Reece Bowen, William Blackburn, and Robert Edmondson, 
Sr., Ensigns Andrew Edmondson, John Beattie, James 
Corry, Nathaniel Dryden, Nathaniel Gist, James Philips, 
and Humberson Lyon, and private Henry Henigar. 
Lieutenant Thomas McCulloch, and Ensign James Laird, 
who were mortally wounded, died a few days thereafter. 
Captain James Dysart, Lieutenants Samuel Newell, Robert 
Edmondson, Jr., and eighteen privates wounded,* of whom 
were Fredrick Fisher, John Skeggs Benoni Banning, 
Charles Kilgore, William Bullen, Leonard Hvce, Israel 
Havter, and William Moore, who recovered. The names 
of the other ten disabled Virginians have not been preserved. 

So badly wounded was William Moore, that his leg had 
to be amputated on the field. He was necessarily left at 

* Samuel Newell's letter to Getieral Francis Preston, states that Campbell's regiment 
had thirty-five killed and wounded. As fourteen were killed including two officers who 
shortly after died of their wounds, it would leave twenty-one wounded, three of whom 
were officers. 


some good Samaritan's ; but when his associates returned 
to their distant Holston homes, and told the story of their 
victory, and its cost in life and suffering, his devoted wife, 
on learning her husband's terrible misfortune, though in the 
month of November, mounted her horse and rode all the 
long and dreary journey to the neighborhood of King's 
Mountain — such was the intrepidity of the frontier women, 
as well as the men, of those trying times ; and having nursed 
him until sufficiently recovered, she conveyed him home, and 
he lived to a good old age, * dying in 1826, after having 
received from the Government an invalid pension for thirty- 
seven years. 

It is remarkable, that thirteen officers to only a single 
private of Campbell's men, were killed or mortally wounded 
during the battle — nearly one-half of the fatalities of the 
whole Whig force engaged in the contest. This disparity of 
losses between the leaders and privates is a striking proof 
how fearlessly the officers exposed themselves in rallying 
the regiment when broken, and leading on their men by 
their valor and heroic examples to victory. One-third of 
the wounded were of Campbell's regiment. Another 
remarkable fact is, that of eight Edmondsons of the 
Virginia troops, engaged that day, three were killed, and 
one was wounded — all prominent and efficient officers of 
that corps ; the survivors having been WilHam Edmondson, 
the major of the regiment, and privates John, Samuel, and 
William Edmondson. 

Thus the names of those who fell and those who were 
disabled, of the several Whig regiments, so far as we have 
been able to collect them, number twenty-six killed, and 
a nameless one of Hammond's men, who fell, who had a 
premonition of his fate ; and thirty-six wounded. There 
must have been several others killed, beside those whose 
names are given in the several lists, and some twenty-six 

» MS. Statements of the late Governor David Campbell, and \Vm. G. G. Lowry, Clerk 
of the Court of Washington County, Virginia— the latter a great grandson of this patriotic 


306 KING ' 6" MO UNTAIN 

additional ones wounded. It does not appear that there was 
a single Surgeon among the Americans, and Doctor Johnson 
only, of three Surgeons of Ferguson's men, survived, who 
seems to have generously attended the wounded of the 
Whigs, as well as those of his own corps. But the frontier 
people were much accustomed, from necessity, with splints, 
bandages, and slippery elm poultices, to treating gun-shot 
wounds and other disabilities. 

Not very long after the close of the action. Captain John 
Weir, of that part of Lincoln now comprising Gaston 
County, arrived with his company, having heard of the 
advance of the mountaineers ; and may have heard, in the 
distance, the reports of the eighteen hundred rifles and 
muskets of the Whigs and Tories that reverberated from 
King's Mountain over the surrounding country.* Captain 
Robert Shannon, a brave, also of Lincoln County, 
hastened with his compan)^ likewise to the field of battle. 
And not a few of the scattered settlers of that region, men 
and women, repaired to the battle-ground to learn the news, 
and render whatever aid they could under the circum- 
stances. Among them was Mrs. Ellen McDowell, and her 
daughter Jane, having heard the firing from their house, 
went to the scene of strife, where they remained several 
days nursing and attending to the wounded soldiers. 

After the battle quite a number were appointed to count 
up the losses ; but their reports were so contradictory that 
little reliance could be placed in them — apparently repeating 
the process of counting them, in some instances, so that 

■■■■ Captain Weir was born in Ireland, in 1743, where he early married a Miss McKelvey, 
Their eldest son was born in Ireland, soon after which they emigrated to America, set- 
tling on Buffalo Creek, at what is now known as Weir's Bridge, in Gaston County, North 
Carolina. Weir was early commissioned a Captain, and was much engaged in scouting 
service during the Revolution. His activity in the Whig cause excited the ire of the 
Tories. Just before the battle of the Cowpens, he was caught and severely whipped by a 
Tory party, and left in the woods securely tied to a tree; but w.ts fortunately soon after 
found, and released by his friends. On another occasion, his wife was whipped by the 
Tories for refusing to divulge to them the place of her husband's concealment. She died, 
August ir, 1819, and he on the 4th of September following, in his seventy-sixth year. Both 
were long members of the Presbyterian church, and left many worthy descendants. 


the aggregate results greatly exceeded the facts in the case. 
Among the natural rocky defenses, where many of the 
Tories had posted themselves, upwards of twenty of their 
dead bodies were found, completel}^ jammed in between the 
rocks, who had been shot directly through the head * — 
so fatally accurate was the aim of the mountain-riflemen 
when their antagonists ventured to peep out from their 
chosen fastnesses. 

Some considerable time was necessarily employed in 
getting the prisoners properly secured, and in giving such 
attention to the wounded Whigs as the circumstances would 
permit ; Colonel Williams being taken into one of the 
British markees, as were doubtless many others. Doctor 
Johnson, of Ferguson's corps, seems to have been the good 
Samaritan of the occasion, rendering such professional 
services as he could, alike to the Whigs and his "brother 
Provincials ; while the wounded of the poor Loyalists 
appear to have been left pretty much to their fate. 

The truth is, that rarely, if ever, did a body of eighteen 
hundred fighting irien come into conflict, with so litttle pro- 
visions to supply their wants. The Americans, in their 
desperate pursuit of the enemy, trusting to luck, had literally 
nothing ; while Ferguson had been scarcely any more prov- 
ident in securing needful supplies. The country in the 
immediate vicinity of King's Mountain was but sparsely 
settled at that period. " It was dark again we got the 
prisoners under guard," sa3-s the unknown chronicler of 
Campbell's regiment, who left us his narrative of the 
campaign and battle. 

Many a souvenir was appropriated by the victors. 
Captain Joseph McDowefl, of Pleasant Garden, secured 
some of Ferguson's table service — six of his china dinner 
plates, and a small coffee cup and saucer ; several of which 
interesting war trophies are yet retained among his descend- 
ants.! Colonel Shelby obtained the fallen Chieftain's 

* Statements of Silas McBee and John Spelts to the author. 

f MS. letters of Mrs. R. M. Pearson, and Miss N. M. McDowell, grand-daughters, and 
Miss Anna M. Woodfin, a great grand-daughter, of Captain McDowell. 


famous silver whistle, while the smaller one fell to the lot of 
EHas Powell ; and Colonel Sevier secured his silken sash, 
and Lieutenant-Colonel's commission, and DePeyster's 
sword. Colonel Campbell secured at least a portion of his 
correspondence. Ferguson's white charger, who had 
careered down the mountain when his master was shot from 
his back, was, by general consent, assigned to the gallant 
Colonel Cleveland, who was too unwieldy to travel on foot, 
and who had lost his horse in the action. Samuel Talbot, 
turning over Ferguson's dead body, picked up his pistol, 
which had dropped from his pocket. His large silver watch, 
as round as a turnip, fell into the hands of one of Lacey's 
men ; and Doctor Moore, in his Life of Lacey, says he 
frequently saw it ; that it traded for about forty-five or fifty 
dollars as a curiosity. 

" Awful, indeed," says Thomas Young, " was the scene 
of the wounded, the dying and the dead, on the field, after 
the carnage of that dreadful day." * " We had," observed 
Benjamin Sharp, " to encamp on the ground with the dead 
and wounded, and pass the night amid groans and lamen- 
tations." t " My father, David Witherspoon," remarks his 
son, " used to describe the scenes of the battle-ground the 
night after the contest as heart-rending in the extreme — 
the groans of the dying, and the constant cry of "water! 
water ! " \ "The groans of the wounded and dying on the 
mountain," said John Spelts, " were truly affecting — 
begging piteously for a little water ; but in the hurry, con- 
fusion, and exhaustion of the Whigs, these cries, when 
emanating from the Tories, were little heeded." § 

" The red rose grew pale at the blood that was shed, 
And the white rose blushed at the shedding.'' 

Such was the night on King's Mountain immediately 

* Young's Memoir \n the Orion magazine. 
-J- Sharp's narrative in the American Pioneer. 

1 MS. letter of Colonel J. H. Witherspoon, of Lauderdale County, Alabama, No- 
vember, 1880. 

g Conversations with Spelts, in December, 1843. 


succeeding the battle. While these surrounding sufferings 
touched many a heart, others had become more or less 
hardened, believing, so far as the Tories were concerned, 
that their wretched condition, brought upon themselves, 
was a just retribution from high heaven for their unnatural 
opposition to the efforts of their countrymen to throw off the 
chains of political bondage forged by the British Govern- 
ment. The Whigs, weary as they were, had to take turns 
in guarding the prisoners, with little or no refreshment ; 
and caring, as best they could, for their own over three- 
score wounded, with no little fear, withal, lest Tarleton 
should suddenly dash upon them. It was a night of care, 
anxiety and suffering, vividly remembered, and feelingly 
rehearsed, as long as any of the actors were permitted to 



October, 1780. 

Battle Incidents. — Long Sam Abney Coerced into Ferguson's Army. — 
Death of Arthur Patterson. — Drury Mathis' Rough Experience. — 
A Tory Wo?nan Finding her Slain Son. — Fatality of the Riflemen. — 
Preston Goforth and three Brothers Killed. — A Brother Kills a 
Brother.. — The Whig and Tory Logans. — William Logan Noticed. — 
Preparing to Retire — Burning Captured Wagons — Horse-Litters 
for the Wounded. — Gray's Kindness to a Wounded Tory. — A 
Termagajit Prisoner Released. — Messengers Sent to the Foot-Meft. — 
Arms Captured — Tories made to Carry Them. — Trophies of Vic- 
tory. — A Whig Woman Refusing to Share in the Plunder. — Ru?nor 
of Tarleton's Approach. — Burial of the Whig and Tory Dead. — 
Treatmeyit of Ferguson Considered. — Re-Interment of Remains. — 
March of the Army. — Death of Colonel Willams. — Camp at Broad 
River. — Willams' Burial — Discovery of his Long- Forgotten Grave. 
— Six Tory Brothers Escape. — Notice of Colonel Walker. — Bran- 
don's Barbarity. — Campbell Protecting the Prisoners. — Gray' s Retort 
to a Tory Vixen. — Gray's Services. — Sufferitig for Food. — Feedijtg 
Prisoners on Corn and Pumpkins. — Billeting the Wounded. — March 
to Bickerstaff's Old Fields. 

In a contest like that on King's Mountain, lasting over 
an hour, with eighteen hundred men engaged in mortal 
combat, and with repeated charges and repulses, many a 
battle-incident occurred of an interesting or exciting' char- 
acter. A number of them have already been related while 
detailing the services of the several corps engaged in the 
action ; but others, of a more general nature, or where Loy- 
alists were referred to, may very appropriately be grouped 
in this connection. 

Samuel Abnej- — better known as Long Sam Abney, to 
distinguish him from others of the name — -a resident of 
Edgefield County, South Carolina, was a Whig both in 


principle and practice. Upon the fall of Charleston, and 
the occupation of Ninety-Six and Augusta by a strong 
British force, the great body of the people were forced to 
submit — to take protection, which they understood to mean 
neutrality ; but which the British leaders construed very 
differently. Thej^ were treated as conquered Rebels, and, 
in many -instances, were compelled to take up arms in 
defence of a Government which they loathed, and to fight 
against their country's freedom to which their hearts were 
devoted. Such was Abney's situation. He was forced 
into Ferguson's Loyalist corps, and was marched to King's 

At the commencement of the battle, he stationed him- 
self behind a rock, where he would be secure from the balls 
of either side, determined not to fight against his countrj-- 
men. He could not, and would not, take part in shooting 
his own friends, was his secret thought and resolution. But 
amid the shower of bullets fljdng in every direction, he was 
not so safe as he had flattered himself; for while leaning on 
his rifle, and probably indulging in the curiosity of taking a 
view of the combatants, he unintentionally exposed his 
person more than he had designed, when a ball penetrated 
the fleshy part of his arm. This made him " a little mad," 
as he expressed it; still he had, as yet, no thought of taking 
part in the contest. • Presentl}-, however, he was struck 
with another ball; which made him "mighty mad," and 
he then turned in and fought with the bravest and boldest 
of Ferguson's troops. Before the action was over, he was 
riddled with bullets, as he related the story of the fight — 
seven balls taking effect on his person. He was left in a 
helpless, unconscious condition, among the slain and 
wounded on the batde-field ; but fortunately the frost of the 
ensuing night revived him. -He crawled to a neighboring 
branch, and slacked his burning thirst. He was sub- 
sequently found by one of the people of that region, who 
compassionately conveyed him to his home, and bound up 


his wounds ; and, after many days, he i-ecovered, and 
returned to his friends. He lived to a good old age, and 
used merrily to relate how he was shot, and how he was 
provoked to shoot back again, at King's Mountain. * 

In the neighborhood of King's Mountain, on King's 
creek, resided old Arthur Patterson, an Irishman, who 
was devoted to the Whig cause, as well as his several sons 
who were settled around him. On the morning preceding 
the battle, a party of Ferguson's foragers ranging along 
that stream, came across three of the young Pattersons, 
Arthur, Jr., Thomas and William, together with James 
Lindsay ; arrested and marched them to camp, where they 
were placed under guard, awaiting trial. The same day, 
learning of the apprehension of his sons, the aged father 
of the Pattersons started for the camp, to see if he could do 
anything towards effecting their release. Meanwhile the 
Whigs suddenly made their appearance, encircled the 
mountain, and commenced their attack. During the prog- 
ress of the action, while the Americans were pressing the 
enemy, the guards were ordered to take their places in 
the line of defence, and aid, if possible, in checking the 
advance of the mountaineers. Left to themselves, amid the 
confusion of the battle, the prisoners resolved to make a 
push for freedom. Lindsay, together with William and 
Arthur Patterson, Jr., ran through an opening in the British 
lines, and escaped unharmed — Arthur with a portion of the 
rope, with which he had been fastened, still dangling from 
his neck. Thomas Patterson, possessing perhaps more of a 
belligerent nature, watched his opportunity, between fires, 
and made a bold dash for the Whig lines, reaching Shelby's 
corps, where he picked up the rifle of a wounded soldier, 
and fought bravely until victory was proclaimed. His aged 
father was less fortunate. His old Irish blood, as he came 
in view of the noble army of patriots, was stirred within 

* Random Recollections of the Revoltitton. by Hon. J. B. O'Neall, in the Southern 
Literary Journal, August, 1838, pp. 106-7. 


him ; and hoping that he might aid in liberating both his 
sons and his country, he warmlj' joined in the fray, and 
was killed. * 

Drury Mathis, who resided at Saluda Old town, on the 
Saluda, in South Carolina, some two and a half miles above 
the mouth of Little river, had united his fortunes with Fer- 
guson. In the third charge which was made against Camp- 
bell's men, Mathis was badly wounded, and fell to the 
ground. The spot where he had fallen was halfway down 
the mountain, where the balls from the Virginians fell 
around him almost as thick as hail. Fie used to relate, that 
as the mountaineers passed over him, he would play 
possum ; but he could plainly observe their faces and eyes ; 
and to him those bold, brave riflemen appeared like so 
many devils from the infernal regions, so full of excitement 
were they as they darted like enraged lions up the mount- 
ain. He said they were the most powerful looking men he 
ever beheld ; not over-burdened with fat, but tall, raw-boned, 
and sinewy, with long matted hair — such men, as a body, 
as were never before seen in the Carolinas. With his feet 
down the declivity, he said he could not but observe that 
his Loyalist friends were very generally over-shooting the 
Americans ; and that if ever a poor fellow hugged mother 
earth closely, he did on that trying occasion. After the battle 
— the next day, probably — he was kindly taken to a house in 
that region, and nursed till his wound had healed, when he 
returned to Ninety-Six, an humbled, if not a wiser man. 
He lived to enjoy a green old age ; but used stoutly to swear 
that he never desired to see King's Mountain again, f 

Thomas Mullineaux, a youth, lived with his mother, 
some two miles from the mountain. He used to relate, in 
his old age, that when the firing began, his mother and the 
family were sitting down to a late dinner. Presently a 
neighboring woman came running in, wringing her hands, 

*MS. letters of Colonel J. R. Logan, Dr. W. J. T. Miller, Abraham Hardin; Hunter's 
Sketches, 311 ; Moore's Lacey, 18; The Carolinian, Hiclcory, North Carolina, Oct. 1st, 1880. 
f MS. papers of Dr. John H. Logan. 


and uttering her deep lamentations over the dangers sur- 
rounding her son, who had enlisted under the banners of 
Ferguson. After the firing had, at length, ceased, and 
all was still again, as if nothing had occurred to disturb the 
peace that had brooded over the mountain from time 
immemorial, the poor woman hastened, with a heavy heart, 
accompanied b}' j'oung Mullineaux, to the scene of action. 
Turning up the faces of the dead and wounded Tories, 
scattered along the sides, and upon the crest of the moun- 
tain, she at length discovered the gorj^ bod}' of her son 
pierced by a rifle ball. It was a heart-rending scene.* 

The fatality of the sharp-shooters at King's Mountain 
almost surpasses belief. Riflemen took off riflemen with 
such exactness, that they killed each other when taking 
sight, so instantaneously that their eyes remained, after 
they were dead, one shut and the other o-pen — in the usual 
manner of marksmen when leveling at their object. f Wil- 
kinson, in his Memoirs, refers to " the Southern States, rent 
by civil feuds, bleeding by the hands of brothers ; " and cites 
an incident in point at King's Mountain, related to him by 
Colonel Shelby, ^^ that tzuo brothers, expert riflemen, zuere 
seen to present at each other , to fire and fall at the same 
instant — their names were given to me, but they have 
escaped my memory." \ 

It is not improbable that these two brothers who con- 
fronted and killed each other, as related by Colonel Shelby, 
were of the Goforth family, of Rutherford County, North 
Carolina. At least, four brothers — Preston Goforth on the 
Whig side, and John Goforth and two others in the Tory 
ranks — all participated in the battle, and all were killed. 
It was a remarkable fatality. § 

Another instance of brother killing a brother, during the 
engagement, is thus related : A Whig soldier noticed a 

'•'Dr. J. H. Logan's manuscripts. 

■f Lamb's y<?Mr«(i^. 308. 

J Wilkinson's Memoirs, i, 115. 

g MS. Correspondence of W, L. T-wItty. 


good deal of execution in a particular part of his line from a 
certain direction on the other side. ■ On close observation, 
he discovered that the fatal firing on tlae part of Ferguson's 
men, proceeded from behind a hollow chestnut tree, and 
through a hole in it. He concluded to make an effort to 
silence that battery, and aimed his rifle shots repeatedly at 
the aperture. At length the firing from that quarter ceased. 
After the battle, his curiosity prompted him to examine the 
place, and discovered that he had killed one of his own 
brothers, and wounded another, who had joined the Loyalist 
forces, and concealed themselves in the rear of this tree. 
So much did the patriot brother take the circumstance to 
heart, that he became almost deranged in consequence.* 

There were four brothers, all of Lincoln County, North 
Carolina, who shared in the battle — William and Joseph 
Logan, on the Whig side, and John and Thomas Logan 
among Ferguson's forces. William Logan belonged to 
Mattock's company, and was close by his Captain when he 
fell — the fatal ball having passed a hollow dead chestnut 
tree. Joseph Logan, the other Whig brother, was a Baptist 
preacher ; and, during the engagement, he, with a Presbj'- 
terian minister, wrestled with the Lord in prayer, as in 
olden times, to stay up the hands of their friends. Thomas 
Logan, one of the Tory brothers, had his thigh badly 
broken, and was left on the field of battle ; while his 
brother, John Logan, was taken among the prisoners, and 
afterwards died a pauper. t These political divisions in 
families, which were not unfrequent, were exceedingly 
unpleasant, engendering much bitterness and animosity. 

* Rev. E. R. Rockwell, of Cool Spring, North Carolina, in Historical Magazine, 
September, 1867, p. i8t. 

T MS. Correspondence of Colonel J. R Logan. His grandfather, William Logan, who 
shared in the glories of King's Mountain, was a native of Virginia, born in 1749. descend- 
ing from Scotch-Irish ancestry. Before the war, he married Jane Black, and settled in 
Lincoln County. North Carolina. He did good service at King's Mountain, and rendered 
himself useful during the continuance of the contest, for which in his advanced years he 
drew a pension. After the war he settled on main Buffalo creek, on the border of York 
County, South Carolina, where he died in r832, at the age of eighty-three years, having 
dropped dead in the field while feeding his cattle. He left five sons and two daughters, and 
was long a worthy member of the Baptist church. 


In the morning, after the battle, a man was discovered 
on the top of the mountain — one of the Tories, it is believed 
— with a bullet hole through his head, a rifle ball having 
entered his forehead, and passed out at the back part of his 
cranium ; and strange to say, he was still alive, and sitting 
in an upright posture on the ground. Some of his brains 
had oozed out on either side of his head ; and though 
unconscious, he was yet breathing. It was proposed by 
those who saw him, that they would gently lay him down ; 
and, on doing so, he instantly expired.* 

On Sabbath morning, October the eighth, the sun shone 
brightly, the first time in several days, and the patriots 
were early astir — prompted thereto by two verj' pressing 
motives. One was, that they might get on their return 
route as quickly as possible, to secure a much needed sup- 
ply of provisions ; the other to hasten beyond the reach of 
the dreaded Colonel Tarleton, an encounter with whom 
was very undesirable, encumbered as they were with so 
many prisoners, and the necessary care and conveyance of 
their own wounded. Seventeen baggage wagons were, 
according to Colonel Shelby's letter to his father, among 
the trophies of victory ; and these, says Ramsey's Tetines- 
see, were drawn by the men across their camp-fires and 
consumed. To have attempted to carry them along, would 
have retarded their march over a rough country ; and the 
wounded could be best borne on the journey on horse-litters, 
by fastening two long poles on either side of two horses at 
tandem, leaving a space of six or eight feet between them, 
stretching tent-cloth or blankets between the poles, on which 
to place a disabled officer or soldier. 

In rambling that morning among the Tory wounded, 
who lay scattered about — all who could had crept to the 
branch to quench their raging thirst — James Gray, of the 
Rutherford troops, discovered an old acquaintance wounded 

'■'J. L. Gray's MS. narrativCj derived from James Gray, one of the King's Mountain 


in the ankle, and unable to walk. Gray was fully aware, 
that the unfortunate man was not one of those disrepu- 
table Tories who had joined the King's standard, like 
Plundering Sam Brown, simply for the sake of being 
protected in rapine and plunder. He had joined Fergu- 
son from conscientious motives, believing it his duty 
to fight for the Royal Government. Gray feeling kindly 
towards his old friend, took out his pocket-handkerchief, 
bound up his broken limb, and did whatever else he could 
to ameliorate his unhappy condition. Nor was this kind- 
ness thrown away. Recovering from his wound, the 
Loyalist became a useful citizen to his country ; and, as 
long as he lived, he manifested the strongest friendship for 
Gray, who had shown him compassion in the day of his 
distress. * 

Among the prisoners, Colonel Shelby discovered some 
officers who had fought under his banner, a few weeks pre- 
viously, at Musgrove's Mill. They declared that they had 
been forced to join Ferguson, or fare worse ; and when 
their cases had been inquired into, and their representations 
found to be correct, their misfortunes were conimisserated, 
and they were henceforth regarded as friends, f Here a 
woman was liberated from captivity, who had been taken pris- 
oner in Burke County during Colonel Ferguson's inva- 
sion of that region in the month preceding. She was a regu- 
lar termagant — especially excited by the presence of Tories, 
and in this instance, her ire had probably been provoked 
by the reckless plunder of her property, and she had appar- 
ently been apprehended because she gave them a piece of 
her tongue, in a manner quite too loose and reckless to suit 
the fastidious notions of his Majesty's representatives in the 
backwoods of America. + Once again free in body, as her 
unruly member always had been, she renewedly indulged 
her propensity, we may well judge, of saying ugly things 
of Fersfuson and his men to her heart's content. 

*J. L. Gray's MS. statement, and Rutherford Enquirer, May 24, 1859. 

•J- Shelby, in j47«^r7Va« Review, December, 1848, 

X MS. statement of W. L. Twitty, derived from Colonel W. H. Miller. 


Earl}' that morning, Colonel Campbell ordered two of 
his men, William Snodgrass and Edward Smith, to return 
on the route on which the armj^ had advanced, so as to 
meet the part)' of footmen, and prevent their further 
approach in the direction of King's Mountain. Declining 
a guard, because, as the messengers said, the patriots already 
had the whole population of that region, either as soldiers 
or prisoners, they went on, without any mishap or adventure, 
to Broad river — apparently at the Cherokee Ford — where 
they met their countrymen. They imparted to them the 
joyful tidings of victory, and turned their course, in 
obedience to orders, up the stream. * 

According to the official report of Colonel Campbell 
and associates, fifteen hundred stand of arms were cap- 
tured ; but in Colonel Shelby's letter to his father, written 
five davs after the battle, twelve hundred is the number 
stated — andaportion of these were supernumerary, designed 
for new recruits. " The prisoners," says Shelby, " were 
made to carry their own arms, as they could not have been 
carried in an}^ other way." The flints were taken from the 
locks ; and, to the more strong and healthy Tories, two guns 
each were assigned for convej-ance. When ready to start 
on the day's journey, the prisoners were marched, in single 
file, by the spot where the rifles and muskets were stacked, 
and each was directed to shoulder and carry the arms 
allotted to him. Colonel Shelby, with his sword drawn, 
stood by, among others, to see that the order was strictly 
obeyed. One old fellow came toddling by, and evinced a 
determination not to encumber himself with a gun. Shelby 
sternly ordered him to shoulder one without delay. The 
old man demurred, declaring he was not able to carry it. 
Shelby told him, with a curse, that he was able to bring 
one there, and he should carry one away ; and, at the same 
time gave him a smart slap across his shoulders with the 
flat side of his sword-blade. The old fellow, discovering 

"!' MS. letter of Wm. Snodgrass to Ex-Governor David Campbell, August 15th, 1842. 


that he could not trifle with such a man as Shelby, jumped 
at the gun-pile, shouldered one, and marched away in 
double-quick time. * 

There were not a few other articles, military and per- 
sonal, that fell into the hands of the victors. These seem 
to have been retained by those who possessed themselves of 
them — as the troops, be it remembered, had not engaged in 
the service by any order of Congress, or of their respective 
States. It was entirely a volunteer movement — no baggage- 
wagons, no commissaries, no pay, and no supplies. General 
Lenoir adds, th!at by the victory of King's Mountain, " many 
militia officers procured swords who could not possibly get 
any before ; neither was it possible to procure a good sup- 
ply of ammunition." 

If the soldiers, who had marched so far and suffered so 
much, in order to meet and conquer Ferguson and his army, 
were not unwilling to appropriate to their own use the 
trophies of victory, there is at least one recorded instance 
in which a sturd}^ Whig woman of the country refused 
to profit by the spoils of war. Two brothers, Moses and 
James Henry, of the Lincoln troops, residing in what is 
now Gaston County, fought bravely in the battle ; Moses 
Henry sealing his devotion to his country with his life's 
blood — dying, not long thereafter, in the hospital at Char- 
lotte, of the wound he received in the action. His brother, 
James Henry, while passing through the woods near the 
scene of the conflict, a few days after the engagement, 
found a very fine horse, handsomely equipped with an 
elegant saddle, the reins of the bridle being broken. The 
horse and equipments had belonged, as he supposed, to 
some officer of the enemy. He took the animal home with 
him, greatly elated with his good luck; but his patriotic 
mother meeting him at the gate, immediately inquired whose 
horse it was? He rephed, that he judged that it had be- 

""■ Shelby's narrative in the American Review, Ramsey's Tennessee, 242; General 
Lenoir's statement; T. L. Gray's MSS. ; Rutker/ord Enquirer, May 24th, 1859. 


longed to some British officer. "James," said the mother, 
sternly, " turn it loose, and drive it off the place, for I will 
not have the hands of my household soiled with British 
plunder." Colonel Moses Henry Hand, a worthy citizen 
of Gaston Count}^, is a grandson of Moses Henry who was 
mortally woiinded at King's Mountain. * 

At length the patriot army was ready to commence its 
long and tedious return march, encumbered with their 
wounded, and over six hundred prisoners. A report was 
prevalent that morning, that Tarleton's cavalry was press- 
ing on, and would attempt to rescue the prisoners, f and 
inflict punishment upon the audacious mountaineers ; but 
while it was only camp rumor, brought in by people from 
the surrounding countrjr, whose curiosity had prompted 
them to visit the battle-field, yet the Whig leaders deemed 
it wise to waste no time unnecessarily. Much of the morn- 
ing had been consumed in preparing litters for the wounded. 

When the army marched, some ten o'clock in the fore- 
noon. Colonel Campbell remained behind with a party of 
men to bury their unfortunate countrymen. J The British 
Lieutenant Allaire states, that before the troops moved, 
orders were given to his men b}^ Colonel Campbell, that 
should they be attacked on the march, to fire on and destroy 
the prisoners. We have no means of determining whether 
such orders were given on the supposition of Tarleton's pos- 
sible pursuit, and attempt to rescue the captives ; or it may 
be, if there was any foundation for the statement, it was 
made in a modified form. 

A place of sepulture was selected, upon a small eleva- 
tion, some eighty or a hundred yards south-east of Fergu- 
son's head-quarters ; large pits were dug, and a number of 
the slain placed together, with blankets thrown over them, 
and thus hurriedly buried. § Tarleton asserts, on some 

'■' Hunter's Sketches, pp. 296-97. 

■h MS. letter of Wm. Snodgrass to Governor Campbell; Mills' Statistics ^•J'Ji^'f conver- 
sations with Silas McBee and Jolin Spelts, survivors of the battle. 
t Statement of Joseph Phillips, one of Cleveland's men. 
§ MS. letters of Wm, Snodgrass and John Craig, of CamcbelTs regiment. 


reports he had heard, that the mountaineers used every 
insult and indignity towards the dead body of Ferguson ; * 
and Hanger, an officer at that time in Tarleton's corps, 
declares that such was the inveteracy of the Americans 
against the British leader, that while they buried all the 
other bodies, they stripped Ferguson's of its clothes, and 
left it naked on the field of battle, to be devoured by the 
turkey-buzzards of the country, f 

Colonel Ferguson's biographer repeats the statement 
that his body was stripped, and his surviving comrades 
were denied the privilege of bestowing upon his remains 
the honors of a soldier's burial ; but that the neighboring 
people subsequently accorded to him a decent interment. X 
Mills, in his Statistics of South Carolina., remarks, that 
the victors, dreading the arrival of Tarleton, " hastened from 
the scene of action ; nor durst they attend to the burial of 
the dead, or to take care of the wounded, many of whom 
were seen upon the ground, two days after the battle, 
imploring a little water to cool their burning tongues ; but 
the}^ were left to perish there, and this long hill was 
whitened with their bones." 

That Ferguson's elegant clothing, under his duster or 
hunting-shirt, may have been taken, and that even some 
indignities may have been shown by an excited soldiery, 
towards the British leader's lifeless bod}', is quite possible ; 
if so, it is strange that two officers of his corps, much 
devoted to him. Lieutenant Allaire and Captain Ryerson, 
should make no mention of any such circumstance in 
their narratives of King's Mountain battle. At all events, 
when Colonel Campbell detailed a party of his troops 
to remain behind to bury the American dead, he directed 
a number of the British prisoners to dig pits for the 
interment of their fallen companions, and at the same 

'."'Tarlet'on's Campaigns, quarto edition, 165. 
■r Hanger's Life and Opinions, ii, 406. 
X Dr. Ferguson's Memoir^ 35. 


time, detained Doctor Johnson to attend to the wounded of 
the enemj' before his final departure.* That the grave-pits 
were shallow, and the work of sepulture hastily performed, 
is very likely, for the reception of both the American and 
British remains ; but all was undoubtedly done that well 
could be, undet the circumstances, with such limited facil- 
ties as they possessed, and in their half-starved condition, 
and, withal, threatened, as they supposed, with a visit from 
Tarleton's Legion. The British dead were interred in two 
pits — one a very large one, probably where the Tories were 
laid, side by side ; the other, a smaller one, where doubt- 
less the men of Ferguson's corps were buried. f 

The wolves of the surrounding country were soon 
attracted to the spot by the smell of flesh and blood ; and 
for several weeks they revelled upon the carcasses of the 
slain — some of which had been overlooked and left un- 
buried, while others were scratched out of their shallow 
graves by these prowlers of the wilderness. Vultures and 
wolves divided the human plunder ; and so bold and 
audacious did the latter grow, gorging on flesh, that they, 
in some instances, showed a disposition to attack the living, 
when visiting the scene of the battle. And long after the 
war, it is said, that King's Mountain was the favorite resort 
of the wolf-hunter.]: 

'■'MS. letter of Wm. Snodgrass to Governor Campbell, August 15th. 1842; Benjamin 
Sharp's statement in the American Pioneer. These acts of kindness on the part of Colonel 
Campbell, effectually disprove the supposition of Carrington, in his Battles 0/ the Revo- 
lution, that the Tory wounded were deliberately slaughtered by the victorious patriots. 

f MS. correspondence of Abraham Hardin. 

I Doctor Logan's MSS.. and his I-listory 0/ Ufipcr South Carolina, 68; MS. corres- 
pondence of Colonel J, R. Logan ; Mills' Statistics, 779. 

i t may be added, in this connection, that in 1S15, through the instrumentality of Doctor 
William McLean, of Lincoln County, North Carolina, a day was set apart, and the 
scattered human bones on the mountain, dragged away from their former resting places by 
the voracious wolves, were collected together, and re-interred; and the old monument or 
head-stone of dark slate rock erected at the expense of Doctor McLean, who delivered 
a suitable address on the occasion. The monr.ment bears this inscription: On the east 
side — " S.tcred to the memory of iM li'ir Wilhim Chronicle, Captain John Mattocks, William 
Robb. and John Boyd, who were killed at this place on the 7th of October, 1780, fighting 
in defence of America.'' On the west side: "Colonel Ferguson, an ofhcer of his 
Britannic Majesty, was defeated and killed at this place, on the 7th of October. 1780." — 
Mills' Statistics, 779; )i\' ^ S/ietclies, pp. 2S9, 311 ; MS. correspondence of Abraham 


When the army took up its line of march, strongly 
guarding their prisoners, the tenderest possible care was 
bestowed on the suffering wounded, conveyed on the horse- 
litters — and of none more so than on the heroic Colonel 
Williams. In the early part of the afternoon, when about 
three miles south-west of the battle ground, on the route 
towards Deer's Ferry on Broad river, the little guard having 
him in charge, discovering that life was fast ebbing away, 
stopped by the road-side at Jacob Randall's place, since long 
the homestead of Abraham Hardin, where he quietly 
breathed his last. His death was a matter of sincere grief to 
the whole army. His friends resolved, at first, to carrj^ his 
remains to his old home, near Little river, in Laurens 
County ; but soon after changed this determination. March- 
ing some twelve miles from the battle ground, they en- 
camped that night near the eastern bank of Broad river, 
and a little north of Buff"alo creek, on the road leading to 
North Carolina, and within two or three miles of Boren's or 
Bowen's river and known also as Camp's creek. Here 
at the deserted plantation of a Tory named Waldron as 
Allaire has it — or Fondren, as Silas McBee remembered 
the name* — they found good camping ground, with plenty 
of dry rails and poles for their evening fires, and happily 
a sweet potato patch sufficiently large to supph' the whole 

"This," says Benjamin Sharp, "was most fortunate, 
for not one in fifty of us had tasted food for the last two 
days and nights — since we left the Cowpens." During the 
evening Colonel Campbell and party rejoined the patriots ; 
and the footmen aiTived whom they had left at the ford of 
Green river, and who had made commendable progress in 
following so closely upon the mounted advance ; and who 

*CoI. J. 'R. Logan fully corroborates McBae's statement — that instead of Waldron, as 
Allaire has it, the name of the owner of the plantation where Williams was buried, was 
Matthew Fondren, connected with the Quinns of that region — so states Mrs. Margaret 
Roberts, nee Quinn, now nearly ninety years of age, and reared in that locality. Fondren 
was subsequently thrown from a chair or gig, and killed. 


had, moreover, the good fortune to secure a temporary- 
supply of food — live beef cattle, probably; so that the 
hungry mountaineers, almost famished, now enjoyed a 
happy repast.* 

The next morning, for want of suitable conveyance, the 
friends of Colonel Williams concluded to bury his remains 
were thej^ were. They were accordingly interred with the 
honors of war, between the camp of the patriots and the 
river, a little above the mouth of Buffalo creek — on what 
was long known as the Fondren, then the old Carruth 
place, now belonging to Captain J. B. Mintz.f Having 
performed this touching service, and fired a parting volley 
over the newly made grave of one of the noted heroes of 
the war of independence, the army, late in the day, 
renewed its line of march apparently up Broad river ; and 
after passing what Allaire calls Bullock's creek, but what 
is evidently Boren's river they took up quarters for the 
night on its northern bank, having accomplished only two 
and a half miles. Beside the burial of Colonel Williams, 
the precarious condition of the wounded, probably, re- 
tarded the progress of this day's march, and time was 
needed for recuperation. 

Tuesday, the tenth, was a busy day. The course pur- 
sued would seem to have been still up main Broad river, 
crossing First Broad and Sandy run, in a north-westerly 
direction, towards Gilbert Town, and camping in the woods 
that night, probably not very far from Second Broad 
river, after having accomplished a march of twenty- 
miles. An incident occurred on this part of the route, 

-■■ Snodgrass MS. letter to Governor Campbell; Sharp's narrative; General Lenoir's 
statement; Allaire's MS. Z'/zir;'; and conversations with Silas McBee. 

T MS. correspondence of Colonel J. R. Logan and Abraham Hardin. Colonel Logan 
adds, that he learned from Captain Mintz that a tradition had been handed down that 
Colonel Williams was buried in that neighborhood, and no little pains had been taken to 
identify the grave by various people, and even by some of Colonel Williams' descendants, 
but without success. At length Captain Mintz employed some men toshruboifa field 
long overgrown, and requested them to watch for the long-forgotten grave ; and sure enough, 
they found a grave with a head and foot stone composed of a different kind of rock from 
those abounding there, and well overgrown with grape vines. Though there was no in- 
scription on the head-stone, there is no doubt it is the grave of •' Old King's Mountain Jim." 


worthy of notice. Among the prisoners were six brothers 
named Gage, who had joined Ferguson in consequence of 
the Tory influences surrounding them. During the second 
dajr's march, one of the Gages was taken ill, when the 
officer of the day, who probably could not provide any 
means for his conveyance, and possibly surmising that he 
was feigning sickness, in order to seek an opportunity to 
escape, or delay the Whigs so thatTarleton might overtake 
them, urged the sick prisoner to keep pace with the others. 
His brothers, to save him from possible calamity, took turns 
in carrying him on their backs ; and they adopted the plan 
of availing themselves of their peculiar situation to lag as 
much behind as possible, with a view of taking advantage 
of the first considerable stream they should have occasion to 
pass, in the night, to fall down in the water, and suffer the 
rear guard to ride over them. Their scheme succeeded, 
and they thus escaped in the darkness unobserved.* The 
Whigs kept up their march of evenings, so long as they 
thought it necessary to place themselves beyond the reach 
of British pursuit. 

During Wednesday, the eleventh, the army marched 
twelve miles, and encamped at Colonel John Walker's, 
according to Allaire's Diary. Colonel Walker, one of the 
prominent Whig leaders of the country, resided some five 
miles north-east of Gilbert Town, on the east side of Cane 
creek, half a mile above its mouth, and a mile below the 
present Brittain church. f There seems to have been 

=■= Conversations with Benjamin Starritt, in 1843. 

■f- Colonel Walker was born on Bohemia Creek, New Castle County, Delaware, in 1728. 
When grown, he settled on the South Branch of Potomac, Hampshire County. Virginia, 
where he married Elizabeth Watson. He served as a volunteer under Colonel Washington, 
and shared in Braddock's disastrous defeat in 1755. He shortly after removed to North 
Carolina, settling first on Leeper's Creek, in now Lincoln County, and served on Colonel 
Grant's campaign against the Cherokees in 1761. He subsequently located on Crowder's 
Creek ; and. in 176S, at the mouth of Cane Creek, where he purchased a fine tract of four 
hundred acres for a doubloon. He was a man of marked character and prominence, hold- 
ing several commissions under the Colonial Government — Colonel Commandant of Tryon 
County, and Judge of the Court for many years. On the breaking out of the Revolution, 
sharing in the sympathies of the people, he resigned his Loyal offices, and was among the 
foremost in signing the Articles of Association, pledging resistance to British encroachments. 


individual cases of savage severity, even to murder, exer- 
cised towards the prisoners. Colonel Brandon, a rough, 
impulsive Irishman, discovering that one of the Tories, who 
had been carrying a couple of the captured guns, had 
dodged into a hollow sycamore by the road-side, dragged 
him from his hiding place, and completely hacked him to 
pieces with his sword.* Hints and innuendoes have been 
occasionally thrown out against Colonel Campbell himself 
as guilty of heartless cruelty to the Tory prisoners ; f but 
the following extract from his General Order, at the camp 
below Gilbert Town, October eleventh, 1780, probably in 
the early part of the day, should be a complete vindication 
of his memory and good name from such a charge: " I 
must," he said, "request the officers of all ranks in the 
army to endeavor to restrain the disorderly manner of 
slaughtering and disturbing the prisoners. If it cannot be 
prevented by moderate measures, such effectual punishment 
shall be executed upon delinquents as will put a stop to it." X 
It would appear that the avvay^ on its march this daj-, 
passed through Gilbert Town ; and resting there awhile, 
the prisoners were placed in a pen, in which Ferguson, 
when stationed there, had confined captured Whigs. When 
the British held full sway in that quarter, a Tory woman 
there was asked what the leaders were going to do with 
their Rebel prisoners in the bull-pen? "We are going," 
she tartly replied, " to hang all the d — dold Rebels, and take 
their wives, scrape their tongues, and let them go." This 

in August, 1775; and. the same month, served as a member of the Convention at Hillsboro. 
His sons took an active part in the war, one of whom, Felix Wallcer, represented Ruther- 
ford County seven years in the House of Commons, and six in Congress. Colonel Walker, 
in 1787, removed to the mouth of Green river, in Rutherford County, where he died 
January 25th, 1796, in his sixty-eighth year. He was one of the pioneer fathers of Western 
Carolina. For most of the facts in this note, we acknowledge our indebtedness to the 
Memoirs 0/ Hon, Felix Walker, edited by his grandson, Samuel R Walker. 

='■ Conversations with the late Dr. A. Q. Bradley, who had this incident from one of 
Brandon's men. 

T Statements of Henry Blevins, John Lang and Jacob Isely. appended to Shelby's 
King's Mountain pamphlet, 1823; and W A. Henderson's published Lecture on Governor 
John Sevier, at Knoxville, Tennessee, in January, 1873. 

I Copied from the original, furnished by General John S. Preston; Bancroft, x, 340. 


same Loyalist lady, now when the changes of fortune had so 
suddenly reversed matters, again visited the prison-pen, 
where her husband, who had joined Ferguson's forces, was 
among those in confinement ; and, with eyes filled with 
tears, touchingly inquired of James Gray, one of the 
guard, "What are you Whigs going to do with these 
poor fellows? " Retorting in her own slang language, to 
annoy and humble her, he replied : " We are going to hang 
all the d — d old Tories, and take their wives, scrape their 
tongues, and let them go." This severe response com- 
pletely confounded the termagant, against whose friends 
and cause the battle had gone, and she silently retired.* 

Remaining in camp at Walker's during Thursday, the 
twelfth, the baggage of the Bridsh leaders was divided 
among the Whig officers, save a small • portion granted to 
Captain DePeyster and his associates for a change. Colonel 
Shelby, referring to the tardy movements of the troops, 
observes : " Owing to the number of wounded, and the des- 
titution of the army of all conveyances, they traveled 
slowly, and in one week had only marched about forty 
miles." f Another trying circumstance was, that in conse- 
quence of the contending armies having either occupied, or 
repeatedly traversed, this sparsely settled region, during the 
preceding two or three months, the people were completely 

*MS. statement of J. L. Gray, derived from his grandfather, James Gray ; Rutherford 
Rnguirer,. IMay 24th, 1859. 

James Gray, who generously bound up. with his handkerchief, the broken ankle of a 
Tory acquaintance at King's Mountain, and treated the Tory woman with a touch of his 
biting sarcasm, was a worthy Revolutionary soldier. He was born in Augusta County, 
Virginia, in 1755, and settled in Tryon. sincft Rutherford County, North Carolina, prior to 
the Revolution. He served throughout the war, a part of the time in Captain Miller's com- 
pany. He took part in Rutherford's campaign against the Cherokees in 1776; in the fight 
at Earle's on North Pacolet; in chasing Dunlap to Prince's Fort; and was in Captain 
Edward Hampton's company at the capture of Fort Anderson, on Thicketty creek. It 
was, as he used to relate, a matter of great satisfaction to him. that he aided in capturing 
at King's Mountain some of his Tory acquaintances who had formerly pursued him when 
unable to defend himself He served in Captain Inman's company at the siege of Ninety 
Six, in 1781 ; and not long after was appointed a Captain, and guarded the stations at 
Earle's, Russell's, Waddleton's and White Oak. Captain Gray lived to enjoy a pension, 
and died in Rutherford County. October 21st, 1836, at the good old age of eighty-one years. 

^American Review, December, 1848. 


stripped of provisions, and both the patriots and their pris- 
oners suffered greatly for want of the necessaries of Hfe. 
"The party," says the British Lieutenant Allaire, "was 
kept marching two days without any kind of provisions." 
Thomas Young, in his narrative, refers to the army 
arriving on Cane creek with the prisoners, "where," he adds, 
"we all came near starving to death. The countr}' was 
very thinly settled, and provisions could not be had for love 
or money. I thought green pumpkins, sliced and fried, 
about the sweetest eating I ever had in my life. " * The poor 
prisoners fared worse, for their food was uncooked. When 
camped for the night, they were fed, while surrounded by a 
cordon-guard, like so many farmer's swine — corn upon the 
ear, and raw pumpkins, being thrown to them, which the 
hungry fellows would seize with avidity, f To expedite the 
march of the arm)-. Colonel Campbell issued an order on 
the thirteenth, while yet encamped at Walker's place, 
directing that all the wounded who were not able to march 
with the army, should be billeted in the best manner pos- 
sible, the several companies to which they belonged provid- 
ing the necessary assistance for their removal to places 
selected for them. \ This was probably intended to lighten 
the army of a part of its encumbrance ; but we judge, it was 
found impracticable in that settlement, in consequence of 
the scarcity of pro\isions. That day, according to Allaire's 
Diary, the troops moved, with their prisoners, five or six 
miles, north-east of Walker's to Bickerstaff's, or Bigger- 
staff's Old Fields, since known as the Red Chimneys, where 
a stack of chimneys long stood after the house had decayed 
and been demolished. This locality is on Robertson's 
creek, some nine miles north-east of the present village of 

■■'Orion Magazine. October, 1843. 

+ Conversations with John Spelts, an eye-witness to these scenes ; and also with Ben- 
jamin Starritt. 

J Colonel Campbell's MS. order, preserved by General Preston. 



October— November, 1780. 

Colonel Campbell Denounces Plundering. — Complaints against Tory 
Leaders. — Their Outrages on the Whigs. — A Court called to Con- 
sider the Matter. — Retaliation for British Executions Demanded. — 
A Law Found to Meet the Case. — Charges against Mills, Gilkey, 
and McFall. — Colotiel Davenport Noticed. — Nwnber of Tories 
Tried and Condemned. — Case of fames Crawford. — One of tlie 
Prisoners Released. — Cleveland Favoring Severe Measures. — 
Motives of the Patriots Vindicated. — Shelby's Explanation. — 
Tories Executed — their Names and Residence. — Paddy Carr's 
Remarks, and Notice of Him. — Baldwin's Singular Escape. — 
Further Executions Stopped. — Tories Subsequently Hung. — Rumor 
of Tarleton's Approach. — Whigs Hasten to the Catawba. — A Hard 
Day's March — Sufferings of Patriots and Prisoners. — Major Mc- 
Dowell's Kindness. — Mrs. McDowell's Treatment of British Offi- 
cers. — Some of the Whig Troops Retire. — Disposition of the JVounded. 
— PriSioners Escape — One Re-taken and Hung. — March to the 
Moravian Settlements. — Bob Powell's Challe7ige. — Official Account 
of the Battle Prepared. — Campbell ajid Shelby Visit General Gates. 
— Cleveland left in Command. — His Trial of Tories. — Escape of 
Green and Langum. — Cleveland Assaults Doctor fohnson. — Colonel 
Armstrong Succeeds to the Command. — Escape of British Officers. 

While encamped at BickerstafF's, on Saturday, the four- 
teenth, Colonel Campbell issued a General Order., deplor- 
ing the " many deserters from the army," and the felonies 
committed by them on the poverty-stricken people of the 
country. " It is with anxiety," he adds, " that I hear the 
complaints of the inliabitants on account of the plundering 
parties who issue out of the camp, and indiscriminately rob 
both Whig and Tory, leaving our friends, I believe, in a 
worse situation than the enemy would have done;" and 
appeals to the officers " to exert themselves in suppressing 


this abominable practice, degrading to the name of soldiers." 
He further orders that none of the troops be discharged, 
till the prisoners can be transferred to a proper guard. * 
But some of the prisoners were soon to be disposed of in a 
manner evidently not anticipated when the order just issued 
was made known to the army. 

During this day, an important occurrence transpired at 
Bickerstaft''s. The officers of the two Carolinas united in 
presenting a complaint to Colonel Campbell, that there 
were, among the prisoners, a number who were robbers, 
house-burners, parole-breakers, and assassins. The British 
victory near Camden had made, says General Preston, 
" Cornwallis complete master of South Carolina. This 
power he was using with cruelty, unparalleled in modern 
civilized conquest ; binding down the conquered people 
like malefactors, regarding each Rebel as a condemned 
criminal, and checking everjr murmur, answering every 
suspicion with the sword and the fire-brand. If a suspected 
Whig fled from his house to escape the insult, the scourge 
or the rope, the myrmidons of Ferguson and Tarleton 
burned it down, and ravished his wife and daughters ; if a 
son refused to betray his parent, he was hung like a dog ; 
if a wife refused to tell the hiding-place of her husband, her 
belly was ripped open by the butcher-knife of the Tory ; 
and to add double horror and infamy to the deep damna- 
tion of such deeds, Americans were forced to be the instru- 
ments for perpetrating them. That which Tarleton (beast, 
murderer, hypocrite, ravisher as he was,) was ashamed to 
do, he had done by Americans — neighbors, kinsmen of his 
victims. I draw no fancy picture — the truth is wilder far 
than the fabulist's imagination can feign." \ 

Bancroft touchingly depicts the sad condition of the 
people, where unchecked Toryism had borne sway : " The 
sorrows of children and women," he says, " robbed and 

"^'MS. Order preserved by General Preston, 
t King's Mountain Address, October, 1855, 49. 


wronged, shelterless, stripped of all clothes but those the}^ 
wore, nestling tibout fires they kindled on the ground, and 
mourning for their fathers and husbands," were witnessed 
on every hand ; and these helpless suflerers appealed to all 
hearts for sympathy and protection. Colonel Campbell, on 
the strength of the complaints made to him, was induced to 
order tlie convening of a court, to examine fully into the 
matter. T*lie Carolina officers urged, that, if these men 
should escape, exasperated, as they now were, in con- 
sequence of their humiliating defeat, they would com- 
mit other enormities worse than their former ones.* 
The British leaders had, in a high-handed and summary 
manner, hung not a few of the captured patriots at 
Camden, and more recently at Ninety Six, and Augusta ; 
and now that the Whigs had the means of retaliation at 
their command, they began to consider whether it was 
not their duty to exercise it ; thinking, probably, that it 
would have a healthful influence upon the Loyalists — that 
the disease of Toryism, in its worst aspects, was disastrous 
in its effects, and heroic treatment had become necessary. 

Colonel Shelby, with others, seems to have taken this 
view of the subject. When the mountaineers "reached 
Gilbert Town," says Shelby, " a week after the battle, they 
were informed by a paroled officer, that he had seen eleven 
patriots hung at Ninety Six a few days before, for being 
Rebels. Similar cruel and unjustifiable acts had been 
committed before. In the opinion of the patriots, it required 
retaliatory measures to put a stop to these atrocities. A 
copy of the law of North Carolina was obtained, which 
authorized two magistrates to summon a jurj^ and forthwith 
to try, and, if found guilty, to execvite persons who had 
violated its precepts." \ This law providing capital punish- 
ment, must have had reference to those guilty of murder, 
arson, house-breaking, riots, and other criminal offences. 

* Ensign Robert Campbell's King's Mountain narrative. 
\ Shelby, in American Review, December, 1848. 


"Colonel Campbell," says Ensign Campbell, "complied, 
and ordered a court-martial to sit immediateh', composed of 
the field officers and Captains, who were ordered to inquire 
into the complaints which had been made. The court was 
conducted orderljr, and witnesses were called and examined 
in each case — the consequence was, that thirty-two were 
condemned." * 

Under the law as cited by Colonel Shelby, while the 
tribunal was, no doubt, practically, a court-martial, it was 
nominally, at least, a civil court, with two presiding justices. 
There was no difficulty on this point, for most of the 
North Carolina officers were magistrates at home — Colonel 
Cleveland, and four or five others, of the Wilkes regiment 
alone filling that position. The jury was composed of 
twelve officers — Lieutenant Allaire, in \i\s Diary, denouncing 
it as " an infamous mock jury." " Under this law," says 
Shelby, "thirty-six men were tried, and found guilty of 
breaking open houses, killing the men, turning the women 
and children out of doors, and burning the houses. The 
trial was concluded late at night; and the execution of the 
law was as summary as the trial." 

How much of the evidence, hurriedly adduced, was one- 
sided and prejudiced, it is not possible at this late day to 
determine. Colonel Ambrose Mills, the principal person 
of those condemned, was a man of fair reputation, and 
must have been regarded chiefly in the light of being a 
proper and prominent character upon whom to exercise 
retaliator}^ measures ; and yet it was necessary to make 
some specific charge against him — the only one coming 
down to us, is that related bj^ Silas McBee, one of the 
King's Mountain men under Colonel Williams, that Mills 
had, on some former occasion, instigated the Cherokees to 
desolate the frontier of South Carolina, which was very 
likely without foundation. It was proven against Captain 
Walter Gilkey, that he had called at the house of a Whig ; 

'■'■Annals of the Ar7ny o/ Tennessee, 1878, 


and inquiring if he was at liome, was informed by his son, 
a 3-outh, that he was absent, when the Tory Captain 
immediately drew his pistol, discharged it, wounding the 
lad in the arm, and taking his gun from him. Recovering 
from his wound, this youth was now with the mountaineers, 
and testified against his would-be murderer. Gilkey's aged 
father was present, and offered in vain his horse, saddle and 
bridle, and a hundred dollars in money, as a ransom for 
his son.* 

Another case somewhat similar to Gilkey's, was that of 
John McFall, a noted Tory leader of Burke County. Head- 
ing a party of mounted Loyalists, McFall dashed up to the 
house of Martin Davenport, on John's river, hoping to 
capture or kill him, as he was a prominent Whig, and had, 
more than once, marched against the Tories, under Colonel 
Cleveland and Major McDowell. But they failed to find 
him, as he was absent in the service. The Tory band vented 
their spleen and abuse on Mrs. Davenport, and directed her 
to prepare breakfast for them ; and McFall ordered the lad, 
William Davenport, then in his tenth year, to go to the corn 
crib, procure some corn, and feed the horses in the trough 
pi^epared for such use at the hitching post. After getting 
their meal, and coming out to start off, McFall discovered 
that the horses had not been fed, and asked the little fellow 
roughl}' why he had not done as he had bidden him ? The 
spirited little Rebel replied : " If you want your horses fed, 
feed them yourself." Flying into a passion, McFall cut a 
switch and whipped him smartly. 

At the trial at Bickerstaff 's, when McFall's case was 
reached. Major McDowell, as the proper representa- 
tive of Burke County, whence the culprit hailed, was 
called on to give his testimony ; when, not probably regard- 
ing McFall's conduct as deserving of death, he was disposed 

* Conversations with Silas McBee ; narrative of Ensign Robert Campbell ; MS. corres- 
pondence of W, L. Twitty, as related by the venerable John Gilkey, of Rutherford County, 
N. C, in no way related to his Tory namesake. 


to be lenient towards him. Colonel Cleveland, who, it 
would appear, was one of the presiding justices, had his 
attention attracted from his paper, upon which he was mak- 
ing some notes, by hearing McFall's name mentioned, 
now spoke up — "That man, McFall, went to the house 
of Martin Davenport, one of my best soldiers, when he 
was awav from home, fighting for his country, insulted his 
wife, and whipped his child; and no such man ought to 
be allowed to live." * His fate was sealed by this revela- 
tion ; but his brother, Arthur McFall, the old hunter of the 
mountains, was saved through the kind intervention of Major 
and Captain McDowell, believing, as he had been wounded 
in the arm at King's Mountain, it would admonish him not 
to be found in the future in bad company, f 

Benjamin Sharp represents that the number of Tories 
condemned to the gallows was upwards of forty, Thomas 
Maxwell and Governor David Campbell say thirty-nine, 
Shelby thirty-six. General Lenoir and Ensign Campbell 
thirty-two, while Ramsey's Tennessee, Lieutenant Allaire, 
Benjamin Starritt and others, give the number as thirty. 
Starritt asserts that those upon whom sentence of death had 
been pronounced, were divided into three classes of ten each 

* MS. pension statement of Richard Ballew, of Knox County, Ky , formerly of Burke 
County. N C. ; MS. letters of Hon. J. C. Harper, and Captain W. W. Lenoir, who had 
the particulars from William Davenport himself. Colonel Davenport was born in Culpeper 
County, Virginia. October 12, 1770. His mother dying about the close of the Revolution 
of small-po-K, his father removed to the mountain region, on Toe river, in now Mitchell 
County; a hunter's paradise, where he could indulge himself in his favorite occupation 
of hunting, and where his son William killed the last elk ever seen in North Carolina. 
Colonel William Davenport became a man of prominence, representing Burke County in 
the House of Commons in 180a, and in the Senate in 1802. He possessed an extraordinary 
memory, was a most excellent man ; and was the chief founder of Davenport Female Col- 
lege at Lenoir. He married the widow of Major Charles Gordon, one of the King's Moun- 
tain heroes; and lived for many years in the Happy Valley of the Yadkin, three and a 
half miles above Fort Defiance, where he died August ig, 1859, in the eighty-ninth year of 
his age. 

"i-MS. correspondence ofW. A. McCall, Esq., of McDowell County, N. C, who knew 
Arthur McFall very well. He used to speak kindly of the McDowells befriending him, 
and said that Colonel Cleveland had little mercy on Americans who were caught fighting 
with the British. Arthur McFall spent most of his life as a hunter in the mountains, 
making his home, when in the settlements, with old acquaintances. He was a man after 
Daniel Boone's own heart ; and died about the year 1835, on Grassy Creek, at the venerable 
age of between ninety and a hundred years. 


— Colonel Mills heading the first class, and James Crawford 
the second class. It will be remembered that Crawford, 
who lived at the head of French Broad river, belonged to 
Sevier's regiment ; and while at " The Bald " of the Yellow 
Mountain on their outward march, had enticed Samuel 
Chambers, an inexperienced youth, to desert with him, and 
they gave Ferguson information of the plans and approach 
of the mountaineers. It is said, that when Ferguson had 
taken post on King's Mountain, and a week had elapsed 
since the renegades brought the report, that he had caused 
Crawford to be tried and condemned for bringing false in- 
telligence ; and the evening of the seventh of October had 
been set for his execution. However this may have been, 
Colonel Sevier interceded in Crawford's behalf, as he could 
not bear to see his old neighbor and friend suffer an igno- 
minious death, and had him pardoned. He subsequently 
removed to Georgia. Young Chambers' guilt was excused 
on account of his youthfulness. * Judged by the laws of 
war, Crawford was a deserter ; and in view of the injury he 
tried to inflict on the Whig cause, he as richly deserved the 
halter as Andr^, and doubtless much more than anj- of his 
Tory associates. 

As Abram Forney, one of the Lincoln troops, was sur- 
veying the prisoners, through the guard surrounding them, 
he discovered one of his neighbors, who only a short ,time 
before King's Mountain battle, had been acting with the 
Whigs ; but had been over-persuaded, by some of his Tory 
acquaintances, to join the King's troops. Upon seeing him, 
Forney exclaimed — " Is that you, Simon?" "Yes," he 
replied, quickly, " it is, Abram, and I beg j'ou to get me out 
of this bull-pen ; if you do, I will promise never to be 
caught in such a scrape again." When it was, accordingly, 
made to appear on the day of trial, that he had been unfortu- 
nately wrought upon by some Tory neighbors, such a miti- 
gation of his disloyalty was presented as to induce the court 

*MS. notes of conversations with James and George W. Sevier, and Benjamin Starritt. 


to overlook his offence, and set him at liberty. Soon after- 
wards, true to his promise, he joined his former Whig 
comrades, marched to the battle of Guilford, and made a 
good soldier to the end of the war. * 

So far as the evidence goes. Colonel Cleveland was 
probably more active and determined than any other officer 
in bringing about these severe measures ; though Colonel 
Brandon, it was well known, was an inveterate hater of 
Tories ; and Colonel Shelby seems to have aided in find- 
ing a State law that would meet these cases. It is said 
that Cleveland had previously threatened to hang certain 
Tories whenever he could catch them ; f and Governor 
Rutledge, shortly after this affair, ascribed to him the chief 
merit of the execution of several " noted horse thieves and 
Tories" taken at King's Mountain. J 

The Southern country was then in a very critical condi- 
tion, and there seemed to be a grave necessity for checking, 
by stern and exemplary punishment, the Tory lawlessness 
that largely over-spread tlie land, and impressing tliat 
class with a proper sense of the power and determination 
of the Whigs to protect their patriot friends, and punish 
their guilty enemies. Referring to the action at Bicker- 
staff's, Ensign Campbell well observes: "The officers on 
that occasion acted from an honorable motive to do the 
greatest good in their power for the public service, and to 
check those enormities so frequently committed in the States 
of North and South Carolina at that time, their distress 
being almost unequalled in the annals of the American 
Revolution." The historian, Bancroft, errs in supposing 
that these executions were the work of lawless "private 
soldiers.'' § The complaints against the Tory leaders were 
made by the officers of the western army from the two 
Carolinas, and the court and jury were composed exclu- 

* Hunter's Sketches, pp. 266-67. 

\Got^ori's American Revohttion,\v.y ^66'^ Mrs. Warren's Revolution^W, 2^2, 

J RusselVs Magazine, 1857, i, 543. 

2 History of the United States, a, 339. 


sively of officers — and all was done under the form and 
sanction of law. 

While the jurist-historian, Johnson, could have wished 
that the conquerors of Ferguson had been magnanimous, 
and spared these miserable wretches from the gallows, yet 
as an act of justice and public policy he vindicates their 
conduct. Many severe animadversions, he observes, have 
been showered on the brave men who fought at King's 
Mountain for this instance of supposed severity. War, in 
its mildest form, is so full of horrors, that the mind recoils 
from vindicating any act that can, in the remotest degree, 
increase its miseries. To these no act contributes more 
than that of retaliation. Hence no act should be ventured 
upon with more solemn deliberation, and none so proper to 
be confined to a commander-in-chief, or the civil power. 
But the brave men who fought in the affair at King's 
Mountain, are not to be left loaded with unmerited censure. 

The calmest and most dispassionate reflection upon 
their conduct, on this occasion, will lead to the conviction, 
that if they committed any offence, it was against their own 
country — not against the enemy. That instead of being 
instigated by a thirst of blood, they acted solely with a view 
to put an end to its effusion ; and boldly, for this purpose, 
took upon themselves all the dangers that a system of retalia- 
tion could superinduce. The officers of the American army, 
who, twelve months afterwards, hazarded their lives by 
calling upon their General to avenge the death of Hayne, 
justly challenge the gratitude and admiration of their 
country ; but the men of King's Mountain (for it is avowed 
as a popular act, and not that of their chief alone), merit 
the additional reputation of having assumed on themselves 
the entire responsibility, without wishing to involve the 
regular army in their dangers. And this was done in the 
plenitude of British triumph, and when not a man of them 
could count on safetj' for an hour, in anything but his own 
bravery and vigilance. 


But what was the prospect before them? They were 
all proscribed men ; the measures of Lord CornwalHs had 
put them out of the protection of civilized warfare ; and the 
spirit in which his proclamations and instructions were 
executed by his officers, had put them out of the protection 
of common humanity. The massacres at Camden had 
occurred not six weeks before, and those of Browne, at 
Augusta, scarcely half that time. Could they look on and 
see this system of cruelty prosecuted, and not try the 
only melancholy measure that could check it? The effect 
proved that there was as much of reflection as of passion in 
the act ; for the little despots who then held the country, 
dared prosecute the measure no farther. Another and an 
incontestible proof that blind revenge did not preside over 
the counsels that consigned these men to death, is drawn 
from the deliberation with which they were selected, and 
the mildness manifested to the residue of the prisoners. 

It has been before observed, that, in the ranks of Col- 
onel Ferguson, there were many individuals notorious as 
habitual plunderers and murderers. What was to be done 
with these? There were no courts of justice to punish their 
offences ;* and, to detain them as prisoners of war, was to 
make them objects of exchange. Should such pests to 
society be again enlarged, and suffered to renew their out- 
rages? Capture in arms does not exempt the deserter from 
the gallows; why should it the cold-blooded murderer? 
There was no alternative left ; and the officers, with all the 
attention to form that circumstances would permit, and 
more — a great deal, it is believed — than either Browne or 

* Such was the distraction of the times, that South Carolina, during the period of 
1780-S1, was without a civil government, Governor Rutledge having been compelled to 
retire from the State, and the Lieutenant Governor and some of the Council were prisoners 
of war. Nor during a portion of the war did North Carolina fare much better. At one 
time, one of her high judicial officers, Samuel Spencer, could only execute the laws 
against Tories with threats and attempted intimidation ; the Governor, at one period, was 
captured and carried away. When Cornw^allis invaded the State, the prominent officials 
fled, carrying the public records to Washington County, Virginia, on the lower frontiers 
of Holston, as a place of asylum and security, as is shown by a MS. letter of Colonel 
Arthur Campbell to Hon. David Campbell, September 15, 1810. 


Cornwallis had exhibited, could only form a council, and 
consign them to the fate that would have awaited them in 
the regular administration of justice. * 

It is but just and proper, in this connection, to give the 
views of Colonel Shelby, one of the conspicuous actors in 
this whole affair ; and he seems to justify it wholly as a 
measure of retaliation : It is impossible, he observes, for 
those who have not lived in its midst, to conceive of the 
exasperation which prevails in a civil war. The execution, 
therefore, of the nine Tories at [near] Gilbert Town, will, 
by manjr persons, be considered an act of retaliation unnec- 
essarily cruel. It was believed by those who were on the 
ground to be both necessary and proper, for the purpose of 
putting a stop to the execution of the patriots in the Caro- 
linas by the Tories and British. The event proved the 
justice of the expectation of the patriots. The execution of 
the Tories did stop the execution of the Whigs. And it 
maj^ be remarked of this cruel and lamentable mode of 
retaliation, that, whatever excuse and pretenses the Tories 
may have had for their atrocities, the British officers, who 
often ordered the execution of Whigs, had none. Their 
training to arms, and military education, should have pre- 
vented them from violating the rules of civilized warfare in 
so essential a point, f 

Early in the evening, the trials having been brought to 
a conclusion, a suitable oak was selected, upon a projecting 
limb of which the executions were to take place. It was 
by the road side, near the camp, and is yet standing, known 
in all that region as the Gallows Oak. Torch-lights were 
procured, the condemned brought out, around whom the 
troops formed four deep. It was a singular and interesting 
night scene, the dark old woods illuminated with the wild 
glare of hundreds of pine-knot torches ; and quite a number 
of the Loyalist leaders of the Carolinas about to be launched 

^-- Johnson's Life of Greene, i. pp. 309-11. 

■j" Conversations with Governor Sheiby, in Atnerican Review, December, 


into eternity. The names of the condemned Tories were — 
Colonel Ambrose Mills, Captain James Chitwood, Captain 
Wilson, Captain Walter Gilkey, Captain Grimes, Lieuten- 
ant LafFerty, John McFall, John Bibby, and Augustine 
Hobbs. They were swung off three at a time, and left 
suspended at the place of execution. According to Lieuten- 
ant Allaire's account, they died like soldiers — like martyrs, 
in their own and friends' estimation. " These brave but un- 
fortunate Loyalists," says Allaire, " with their latest breath 
expressed their unutterable detestation of the Rebels, and 
of their base and infamous proceedings ; and, as they were 
being turned off, extolled their King and the British Gov- 
ernment. Mills, Wilson and Chitwooddiedlike Romans." * 
Among the small party of Georgians who served in the 
campaign, was the noted Captain Paddy Carr, heretofore 
introduced to the reader. Devoid, as he was, of the finer 
feelings of humanity, he was deeply interested in, and 
greatly enjoyed these sickening executions. If there was 

* Allaire's MS. Diary ; and his statements as given in the Scofs Magazine and Riving- 
ton's Royal Gazette. 

It may be well to give the authorities for the names of the Loyalist leaders who suffered 
on this occasion. Lord Cornwallis, in his correspondence, names Colonel Mills, as do 
several historians; Allaire gives the names of Captains Wilson and Chitwood; Gilkey 
is referred to by Ensign Campbell, and specifically named by Silas McBee, and the vener- 
able John Gilkey ; Captain Grimes is mentioned in Ramsey's Tennessee, and Putnam's 
Middle Tennessee; McFall's name has been preserved by Richard Ballew, John Spelts, 
and Arthur McFall — eye-witnesses, and his prior acts at Davenports are related by Hon. 
J. C. Harper and Captain W. W. Lenoir, who derived them from William Davenport ; the 
names of Lafferty and Bibby have been communicated by W. L. Twitty, as the tradi- 
tions of aged people of Rutherford County, N. C, where they, as well as Chitwood lived, 
whose name is likewise preserved in the memories of the aged inhabitants of that region ; 
and the name of Hobbs is alone remembered by Silas McBee. 

Colonel Mills resided on Green river, in Rutherford County ; Captain Wilson, in the 
Ninety Six region, South Carolina; Chitwood, Lafferty, Bibby, and probably Gilkey, in 
Rutherford; McFall, in Burke County ; Hobbs most likely In South Carolina ; and Grimes 
in East Tennessee, where he was a leader of a party of Tory horse-thieves and highway- 
men, and where some of his band were taken and hung. He fled to escape summary pun- 
ishment, but justice overtook him in the end. His bandit career in Tennessee is noticed 
in Ramsey's History of that State, pp. 179. 243 ; and Putnam's Middle Tennessee, 58. 

General DePeyster, in his able Address on King's Mountain, before the New York 
Historical Society, January, 4, i8Sr, has inadvertently fallen into the error of including 
Captain Oates as amon^ those executed with Colonel Mills, citing Mrs. Warren's History 
as authority. Lord Cornwallis, in his letter to General Smallwood, November, 10, 1780. 
states that Captain Oates was taken by the Americans near the Pedee, in South Carolina, 
and "lately put to death." 


anything he hated more than another, it was a Tory ; and, 
it may be, much of his extreme bitterness grew out of the 
fact, that he knew full well how intensely he, in turn, was 
hated by the Loyalists. Pointing at the unfortunates, while 
dangling in mid-air, Carr exclaimed: ^' Would to God 
every tree in the wilderness bore such fruit as that !" '^ 

After nine of the Loyalist leaders had been executed, 
and three others were about to follow suit, an unexpected 
incident occurred. Isaac Baldwin, one of these condemned 
trio, had been a leader of a Tory gang in Burke County, 
who had sacked many a house, stripping the unfortunate 
occupants of food, beds and clothing ; and not unfrequently, 
after tying them to trees, and whipping them severely, 
would leave them in their helpless and gory condition to 
their fate. While all eyes were directed to Baldwin and 
his companions, pinioned, and awaiting the call of the exe- 
cutioners, a brother of Baldwin's, a mere lad, approached, 

=''J. L. Gray's MS. statement; Rutherford ^«$'MzVirr, May 24, 1859. 

The Revolutionary war produced few characters so singular and so notorious as 
Patrick Carr, He was by birth an Irishman, and settled in Georgia before the commence- 
ment of the war. It is only in the latter part of the contest we are able to trace him. He 
shared as a Captain under Colonel Clarke in the heroic attack on Augusta, in September, 
1780; then retired to the Carolinas, and joined the mountaineers under Major Candler, 
and fought at King's Mountain. The following month we find him under Sumter at Black- 
stocks ; in May, 1781, engaged in forays against British and Tory parties in Georgia, way- 
laying and defeating them, extending little or no mercy to any of them. In November, 

1781. when Major Jackson surprised the British post at Ogeechee, and its commander, 
Johnson, was In the act of surrendering his sword to Jackson, Carr treacherously killed 
Captain Goldsmith. Johnson and his associates, judging that no quarters would be given 
them, instpntly sprang into their place of defence, and compelled the Americans to retire 
with considerable loss. A notorious Tory by the name of Gunn had concerted a plan to 
kill Colonel Twiggs, and subsequently fell into the Colonel's hands, when Carr insisted that 
Gunn should be hung; But Twiggs, more humane, protected the prisoner from harm. In 

1782, Carr was made a Major, and, in the spring and early summer, marched with a force 
over the Altamaha, where he had two skirmishes with whites and Indians. On one occasion, 
Carr was praised for his bravery, when he replied that had not God given him too 
merciful a heart he would have made a very good soldier. It is related that he killed 
eighteen Tories on his way back from King's Mountain and Blackstocks to Georgia ; and 
one hundred altogether during the war, with his own hands ! Certain it is, the Tones 
stood in great awe of him. He was murdered, in August, 1802, in Jefferson County, 
Georgia, where he long resided ; and, it is said, the act was committed by descendants of 
the Tories. In December following, the Jefferson County troop of Light Horse assembled 
at his place of inteiment, Lieutenant Robinson delivering a brief eulogy, when the military 
fired a volley over his grave. Though " a honey of a patriot, " Paddy Carr left a name 

*' to other times, 

Mixed with few virtues, and a thousand crimes." 


apparently in sincere affection, to take his parting leave. He 
threw his arms around his brother, and set up a most piteous 
screamin<i and lamentation as if he would go into convul- 
sions, or his heart would break of sorrow. While all were 
witnessing this touching scene, the youth managed to cut 
the cords confining his brother, who suddenly darted away, 
breaking through the line of soldiers, and easily escaping 
under cover of the darkness, into the surrounding forest. 
Although he had to make his way through more than a 
thousand of the best marksmen in the world, yet such was 
the universal admiration or feeling on the occasion, that not 
one would lift a hand to stop him. * 

Whether the escape of Baldwin produced a softening 
effect on the minds of the Whig leaders — any feelings of 
forbearance towards the condemned survivors ; or whether, 
so far as retaliation, or the hoped-for intimidating influence 
on the Tories of the country, was concerned, it was thought 
enough lives had been sacrificed, we are not informed. 
Some of these men must have been tried within the scope of 
the civil law, for crimes committed against society ; while 
others must have been tried and condemned for violations 
of the usages of war;f and yet, after 2iS\., \h.& moral effect 
would seem to have been the principal motive for these 
cases of capital punishment. 

Referring probably to the two companions of Baldwin 
after he had effected his escape, we have this statement on 
the authority of Colonel Shelby: " Three more were tied, 
ready to be swung off. Shelby interfered, and proposed to 

* Conversations with John Spelts and Benjamin Starritt; Memoir of Major Thomas 
Young; Johnson's Life of General Greene, \. 310. 

Baldwin made his way into his old region, in Burke County, where his father resided, 
on Lower Creek of Catawba ; where some two weeks afterwards, he was espied in the 
woods hy some scouts who gave chase, and finally overtook him, one of the pursuers killing 
him by a single blow over the head with his rifle. Some forty-five years after this tragedy, 
a younger brother of Ike Baldwin —prnbibly the one who had so successfully planned his 
escape at Bickerstaff 's— made three ineffectual attempts to kill the man who had brained 
the Tory free-booter. 

t Speech of General Alexander Smyth, in Congress, January 21, 1819, Niles" Register, 
XV., Supplement, 151. 


stop it. The other officers agreed ; and the three men who 
supposed they had seen their last hour, were untied."* The 
inference is, that the officers here referred to, who, with 
Shelby, exercised the pardoning power, or "put a stop" 
to further executions, were the presiding officers of the 
court, in their character of justices, of whom Colonel Camp- 
bell could hardly have been one, though a magistrate at 
home, for the civil court was acting under the laws of 
North Carolina ; and yet Ensign Campbell, in his narrative, 
speaks of the trials having been conducted before a court- 
martial, and adds, that, after the nine were executed, " the 
others were pardoned by the commanding officer;" while 
another eye-witness, Benjamin Sharp, states that " a court 
was detailed," and after the nine were hung, " the rest 
were reprieved by the commanding officer." Nor is the 
language of the late Governor Campbell less explicit: " A 
court-martial was ordered and organized to try many of the 
Tory officers, charged by the officers of North and South 
Carolina with many offences — such as murdering unoffend- 
ing citizens not in arms, and without motive, save the brutal 
one of destroying human life. Thirty-nine were found 
guilty, nine of whom were executed, and thirty were par- 
doned by the commanding officer." f Whether the surviv- 
ors were pardoned by the court in its civil capacity, or by 
the commanding officer at the instance of a court-martial, 
the executions ceased. \ 

^^ American Review, December, 1848. 

■f MS. statement by Governor Campbell. 

J This, however, was not the last of the Tory executions. A few days after King's 
Mountain battle, while some young men of the surrounding country — Thomas Patterson, 
who escaped while a prisoner, and fought so bravely in the action, is believed to have been 
one of the party — were near the battle-ground, looking for horses in the range, they dis- 
covered one of Ferguson's foragers, who was absent at the time of the engagement. They 
concluded to capture him ; but on showing such an intention, they were surprised at his 
pluck, in firing on them single-handed— the bullet whizzing close by them without harm. 
The Tory then betook himself to his heels, but was soon overhauled, and, without much 
ceremony, was suspended to the limb of a tree by means of one of the halters designed for 
the horses His carcass was left hanging till it decayed, and dropped to the ground; while 
the rope dangled from the limb for several years. So relates the venerable E. A. Patterson, 
a grand-son of young Arthur Patterson, who, while a prisoner on King's Mountain, escaped 


One of the reprieved Tories, touched with a sense of the 
obhgation he was under for sparing his Hfe, and perhaps 
resolved tliereafter to devote his energies to the Whig cause, 
went to Colonel Shelby at two o'clock that night, and 
made this revelation : " You have saved my life," said he, 
" and I will tell you a secret. Tarleton will be here in the 
morning — a woman has brought the news." * No doubt 
intelligence came that Tarleton had been dispatched by 
Lord Cornwallis with a strong force lor the relief of Fergu- 
son, if relief could be of any service ; but as to the par- 
ticular time of his arrival, that was the merest guess- v^'ork, 
and, with the Tories, the wish was father to the thought. 
But the Whig leaders, on receiving this information, deeming 
it prudent to run no risk, but to retire with their prisoners to 
a place of safety, instantly aroused the camp, picking up 
everything, sending the wounded into secret places in the 
mountains, and making every preparation for an early start 
in the morning, f They marched, according to Allaire's 
Diary, at the early hour of five o'clock, on Sunday, the 
fifteenth of October. 

The poor Loyalist leaders had been left swinging from 
the sturdy oak upon which they had been executed. No 
sooner had the Whigs moved off, than Mrs. Martha Bicker- 
staff, or BiggerstafF, the wife of Captain Aaron Bickerstaff 
who had served under Ferguson, and been mortally 
wounded at King's Mountain, with the assistance of an old 
man who worked on the farm, cut down the nine dead 
bodies. Eight of them were buried in a shallow trench, 
some two feet deep ; while the remains of Captain Chitwood 

during the battle; corroborated by the venerable Abraham Hardin. Colonel J. R. 
Logan communicated Mr. Patterson's tradition of the affair. 

Not long after the action at King's Mount'iin, o. couple of Tories were caught ard 
hung on an oak tree, near Sandy Plains Baptist Church, in the edge of Cleveland County, 
some four miles south-east of Flint Hill. Neither their names, nor the crimes with which 
they were charged, have been preserved. The tree on which they were executed is still 
standing, and like that at the Bickerstaff Red Chimneys, is known as the Gallows Oak ; it 
has been dead several years. This tradition has been communicated by the aged father of 
Daniel D. Martin, of Rutherford County, and Colonel J. R. Logan. 

* Shelby's account in American Review^ 

-{- Shelby's account. 


were conveyed by some of his friends, on a plank, half a 
mije away to Benjamin Bickerstaff's, where they were 
interred on a hill still used as a grave-yard. About 1855, 
a party of road-makers concluded to exhume the remains 
of Colonel Mills and his companions, as the place of their 
burial was well known. The graves of only four of the 
number were opened, the bones soon crumbling on expo- 
sure. Several articles were found in a very good state of 
preservation — a butcher knife, a small brass chain about five 
inches in length, evident!}' used in attaching a powder-horn 
to a shot-bag, a thumb lancet, a large musket flint, a goose- 
quill, with a wooden stopper, in which were three or four 
brass pins. These articles, save the knife, and a portion 
of the pins, are preserved by M. O. Dickerson, Esq., of 
Rutherfordton . * 

Shortly after marching from Bickerstaff's, rain began to 
fall in torrents, and it never ceased the whole day. " In- 
stead of halting," says Benjamin Sharp, "we rather mended 
our pace in order to cross the Catawba river before it should 
rise to intercept us." It was regarded as essential to get 
out of Tarleton's reach, and hence the straining of every 
nerve, and the exercise of every self-denial, to accomplish 
so important an object. The sanguinary character of that 
impetuous British cavalry officer, and the celerity of his 
movements, as shown at Buford's defeat, at Monk's Corner, 
and at Sumter's surprise at Fishing Creek, admonished 
the Whig leaders of the enemy they might have to deal 
with ; and impelled, on this occasion, by the hope of rescu- 
ing several hundred Bridsh and Tory prisoners was very 
naturally regarded by the patriots as a powerfrd incentive 
for Tarleton to push them to the utmost extremity, and play 
cut and slash as usual — and hence the supposed necessity 
of equal exertions on their part to avert so great a calamity. 
It is not a little singular that, at this very moment, Corn- 
wallis and Tarleton were retreating from Charlotte to 

*MS. correspondence of W. L, Twitty and Mr Dickerson. 


Winnsboro, South Carolina, with all their might and main — 
" with much fatigue," saj^s Lord Rawdon," "occasioned by 
violent rains ; " fearing that the " three thousand " reported 
victorious mountaineers were in hot pursuit. " It was 
amusing,'.' said one of the King's Mountain men, "when 
we learned the facts, how Lord Cornwallis was running in 
fright in one direction, and we mountaineers as eagerly 
fleeing in the other." * 

In Allaire's newspaper narrative, we have this account 
- — whether colored or distorted, we have no means of 
determining: " On the morning of the fifteenth, Colonel 
Campbell had intelligence that Colonel Tarleton was 
approaching him, when he gave orders to his men, that 
should Tarleton come up with them, they were immediately 
to fire on Captain DePeyster and his officers, who were in 
the front, and then a second volley on the men. During 
this day's march, the men were obliged to give thirty-five 
Continental dollars for a single ear of Indian corn, and forty 
for a drink of water, they not being allowed to drink when 
fording a river ; in short, the whole of the Rebels' conduct 
from the surrender of the party into their hands, is incredible 
to relate. Several of the militia that were worn out with 
fatigue, not being able to keep up, were cut down and 
trodden to death in the mire." 

It was about ten o'clock at night, according to Allaire's 
Diary ^ and as late as two o'clock, according to Shelby, when 
the wearied troops and prisoners reached the Catawba, at 
the Island Ford, where the river was breast deep as they 
forded it. They bivouacked on the western bank of the 
river at the Quaker Meadows — the home of Major Mc- 
Dowell. "A distance of thirty-two miles," says Allaire, 
" was accomplished this day over a very disagreeable road, 
all the men worn out with fatigue and fasting, the prisoners 
having had no bread nor meat for two days" — and, appar- 
ently, not even raw corn or pumpkins. Nor had the Whigs 

*MS. Notes of conversations with Silas McBee, in 1842. 

S,^ i T^y M^£y^!. 


fared any better, judging from the statement in the 
American Review, dictated by Colonel Shelb}^ : "As an 
evidence of the hardships undergone by these brave and 
hardy patriots, Colonel Shelby says that he ate nothing 
from Saturday morning until after they encamped Sunday 
night — [or rather Monday morning] — at two o'clock." 
Benjamin Sharp throws additional light on the privations 
of the patriots: "During the whole of this expedition," 
he states, " except a few days at our outset, I neither tasted 
bread nor salt, and this was the case with nearly every man ; 
when we could get meat, which was but seldom, we had to 
roast and eat it without either ; sometimes we got a few 
potatoes, but our standing and principal rations were ears 
of corn, scorched in the fire or eaten raw. Such was 
the price paid by the men of the Revolution for our 

Here, at McDowell's, some provisions were obtained — 
not much of a variety, but such as satisfied half-starved 
men ; nor did they' seek rest until they had dried themselves 
by their, camp fires, and enjoyed their simple repast. 
" Major McDowell," says Sharp, " rode along the lines, 
and informed us that the plantation belonged to him, and 
kindly invited us to take rails from his fences, and make 
fires to warm and dry us. I suppose that every one felt 
grateful for this generous offer ; for it was rather cold, it 
being the last of October, and every one, from the Com- 
mander-in-chief to the meanest private, was as wet as if he 
had just been dragged through the Catawba river." 

It is evident from Allaire's Diary, that when it was pos- 
sible, courtesies were extended to the British officers — even 
when the Whig patriots themselves were camping out on 
the ground. " We officers," he says, " were allowed to go 
to Colonel McDowell's, where we lodged comfortably." A 
litde incident transpired on this occasion which the good 
Lieutenant did not care, perhaps, to record in his Diary. 
Some of these very same officers had visited the residence 


of the McDowell's, under very different circumstances, the 
preceding month, when Ferguson had invaded the Upper 
Catawba Valley, and when the two brothers, Colonel 
Charles and Major Joseph McDowell, had retired with their 
little band across the mountains. Their widowed mother 
was the presiding hostess of the old homestead at the 
Quaker Meadows ; she was a woman of uncommon energy 
and fearlessness of character — a native of the Emerald Isle. 
She possessed a nice perception of right and wrong ; and, 
withal, was not wanting in her share of quick temper 
peculiar to her people. 

Some of these visitors, having ransacked the house for 
spoils, very coolly appropriated, among other things, the 
best articles of clothing of her two noted Rebel sons ; and 
took the occasion to tantalize the aged mother with what 
would be the fate of her boys when they should catch them. 
Charles should be killed out-right, but as for Joe, they 
would first compel him, by way of humiliation, to plead on 
his knees for his life, and then would slay him without 
mercy. But these threats did not in the least intimidate 
Mrs. McDowell ; but she talked back at them in her quaint, 
effective Irish style, intimating that in the whirligigs of life, 
they might, sooner or later, have a little begging to do for 
themselves. The changed circumstances had been brought 
about in one short month, quite as much, perhaps, to the 
surprise of the good old lady, as to the proud officers of 
Ferguson's Rangers. Now they appeared again, wet, 
weary, and hungry ; but Mrs. McDowell readily recognized 
them, and it required not a little kind persuasion on the 
part of Major McDowell to induce his mother to give those 
" thieving vagabond Tories," as she termed them, shelter, 
food, and nourishment. But the appeals of her filial son, of 
whom she was justly proud, coupled with the silent plea of 
human beings in their needy, destitute condition, prevailed ; 
and in her Christian charitjr, she returned good for evil.* 

* Related by'the lady of Ex-Governor Lewis E. Parsons, of Alabama, who derived it from 
her mother, a daughter of Major Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows. 


It was fortunate for the mountaineers that the}^ had suc- 
ceeded in crossing the Catawba so opportunely, for the next 
morning they found it had risen so much as to be past 
fording. This obstacle would naturally prevent, for some 
time, all pursuit, if indeed any had been made. It was 
now arranged that Colonel Lacey's men* should be per- 
mitted to return to South Carolina, while most of Shelby's 
and Sevier's regiments, with the footmen of the Virginians, 
should take their home trail across the mountains. The 
mounted men of Campbell's regiment, with the Wilkes and 
Surry troops under Cleveland and Winston, and perhaps 
McDowell's party, together with a few of Sevier's and 
Shelby's young men who preferred to remain in the service, 
and who had incorporated themselves into McDowell's 
corps, now constituted the escort for the prisoners. Shelby 
states, that after the several corps had retired at the Catawba, 
there remained not more Whigs than they had prisoners to 
guard — about five or six hundred. 

The wounded Americans, who had been hid away in the 
mountains when the troops marched so hurriedly from 
Bickerstaff 's, were soon brought forward ; and mau}^ of them 
were left in Burke County, eight or ten miles above Burke 
Court House, where Doctor Dobson, of that neighborhood, 
had eighteen of them under his care at one time ; four of 
whom were Wilkes and Surry County officers billeted at 
a Mr. Mackey"s. \ 

After a needful rest, and the return of fair weather, the 
patriots proceeded at two o'clock on Monday afternoon, 
October sixteenth, directing their course, by easy marches, 
to the head of the Yadkin, and down the valley of that 
stream. Fording Upper creek, or the North branch of 
the Catawba, and John's river, they encamped that night at 
a Tory plantation, not very far beyond the latter stream. 

While on the hurried and toilsome march from Bicker- 

* Pension statements of William White of Lacey's regiment, and William Alexander 
of Campbell's men. 

f Lieutenant Newell's statement, 1823. 


staff's to the Catawba, and especially during se\'eral hours of 
the evening, amid rain and mud, it proved a favorable oppor- 
tunity for many of the prisoners to give their guards the slip, 
and effect their escape. Allaire says the number reached a 
hundred. To put a stop to these numerous desertions, the 
Whig leaders promulgated severe admonitions of the con- 
sequences of any further attempts in that direction ; but 
thejr did not effectually restrain the daring and adventurous. 
Having marched fifteen miles during Tuesday, passing 
through Happy Valley and over Warrior Mountain, the 
troops, with their prisoners, camped that evening at Captain 
Hatt's plantation, not very far from Fort Defiance ; and, 
during the night, three of the prisoners attempted to evade 
their guards, two of them succeeding, while the other was 
shot through the bod}^, retaken, and executed at five o'clock 
on the following morning. * 

During Wednesday, the eighteenth, the troops forded 
Elk and Warrior creeks, camping that night on the west- 
ern bank of Moravian creek, a short distance west of 
Wilkes Court House, having accomplished eighteen miles ; 
and passing the next day through the Old Mulberry Fields, 
or Wilkes Court House, they took up their camp at 
Hagoods' plantation, on Brier creek, having marched six- 
teen miles this day. While in camp, on Brier creek, 
Colonel Campbell appears to have discharged some of his 
Virginians, for he wrote a letter on the twentieth, to his 
brother-in-law. Colonel Arthur Campbell, giving him a 
brief account of the battle, but was uncertain as yet what 
disposition would be made of the prisoners. Taking a late 
start on Frida}^, six miles only were accomplished, camping 
that night at Sales' plantation. Proceeding by slow 
marches, they passed Salem, arriving at Bethabara, or Old 
Town, on the twent3r-fourth — both Moravian villages — 
whose people, according to Allaire, were stanch friends 
of the King, and were very kind to all the prisoners. 

* Allaire's MS. Diary. Capt. Hatt may possibly be designed for Capt. Holt or Hall. 


The very first night the British officers had been 
assigned quarters at Bethabara, Lieutenant AUaire and 
Doctor Johnson, who were rooming togetlier, were driven 
fi-om their bed by a violent Wliig Captain named Campbell, 
who, with drawn sword, threatened them with death if they 
did not instantly obey him. Colonel Campbell was notified 
of this rudeness, who had the unseasonable intruder turned 
out of the room ; * and this is but another instance of his 
sense of justice towards helpless prisoners. 

Among the Tory captives, was a notorious desperado 
named Bob Powell. He was a man of unusual size, strong, 
supple, and powerful. He boasted of his superior ability 
and agility to out-hop, out-jump, out-wrestle, or out-fight 
any Whig in the army. He seemed to possess a happier 
facultj' of getting into scrapes, than in getting out. Chained 
with two accomplices for some bad conduct, he sent word 
one morning that he wanted to see Colonels Campbell, 
Shelby and Cleveland, on a matter of importance. When 
waited on by those officers, he seemed to think that the 
proposition he was about to submit was a matter of no small 
consideration — no less than a challenge to wresde or fight 
with the best man they could produce from their army, 
conditioned that, should he prove victor, his freedom should 
be his reward ; should he fail, he would regard his life as 
forfeited, and they might hang him. Though a couple of 
guineas were offered to any man who would successfully 
meet him — probably more with a view of an exhibition of 
the " manly art," as then regarded by the frontier people, 
yet no one saw fit to engage in the offered contest. Under 
the circumstances, all knew full well that Powell would 
fight with the desperadon of a lion at bay ; and none cared 
to run the risk of encountering a man of his herculean pro- 
portions, with the stake of freedom to sdmulate his efforts. f 

It w^as apparently while at Bethabara, that Colonels 

* Allaire's MS Diary, and his newspaper narrative. 

■fMS. notes of conversation with John Spelts, an eye-witness. 


Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland made out their official 
report of King's Mountain battle. Had it been prepared 
before Colonels Lacey and Sevier had retired at the Quaker 
Meadows, the names of those two officers would doubtless 
have been attached to it also.* Colonel Shelby accom- 
panied the troops to Bethabara. He had been deputed 
to visit General Gates at Hillsboro, to tender the services 
of a corps of mountaineers, mostly refugees, under Major 
McDowell, to serve under General Morgan. Colonel 
Campbell also had occasion to repair to head-quarters to 
make arrangements for the disposition of the prisoners. 

On the twenty-sixth of October, Colonel Campbell issued 
a General Order, appointing Colonel Cleveland to the 
command of the troops and prisoners until his expected 
return, especially providing that full rations be issued to the 
prisoners ; adding, "it is to be hoped, no insult or violence 
unmerited will be offered them ; no uimecessary injury be 
done to the inhabitants, nor any liquor be sold or issued to 
the troops without an order from the commanding officer." f 
Here we have additional evidence, if any were needed, 
of Campbell's humanity and good sense. 

Colonels Campbell and Shelby had scarcely departed, 
when new troubles arose in the treatment of the prisoners. 
Allaire tells us, that one of the Whig soldiers was passing 
the guard, where the captives were confined, when he rudely 
accosted them: " Ah ! d — n j^ou, you'll all be hanged!" 
One of the prisoners retorted — " Never mind that, it will be 
your turn next ! " For this trifling offence, the poor fellow 

* Doctor Ramsey, in his History of Tennessee, states that the three Colonels visited 
Hillsboro, and there made out their report. Colonel Cleveland did not go there on that 
occasion, having been left in command at Bethabara. His name was signed to the report 
by himself, and not by another as a comparison of his genuine autograph with the/ic- 
j-jw;/? signature to the report conclusively shows. Perhaps as a compliment, Colonel Cleve- 
land was permitted to head the list, in signing the report, as shown in facsimile in 
Lossing s Field Book of the Revolution ; but when General Gates sent a copy, November i, 
1780, to Governor Jefferson, to forward to Congres.s, he very properly placed Campbell's 
name first, Shelby's next, and Cleveland's last — and so they appear as published in the 
gazettes at the time by order of Congress. 

fMS. order, preserved by General Preston. 


was tried before Colonel Cleveland, and condemned to be 
hung. Qiiite a number of people gathered at Bethabara to 
witness the execution of the unfortunate man ; " but," adds 
Allaire, "Colonel Cleveland's goodness extended so far as 
to reprieve him." 

About this time, Captain William Green and Lieutenant 
William Langum, among the Tory prisoners, were tried 
before Colonel Cleveland. The charge ai^ainst Green 
seems to have been, that he had violated the oath he had 
taken as an officer to support the governments of the State 
of North Carolina and of the United States, by accepting a 
British commission, and lighting at King's Mountain. Some 
of the British officers were present, and remonstrated at the 
course taken, when Cleveland cut them short, saying : 
"Gentlemen, you are British officers, and shall be treated 
accordingly — therefore give your paroles and march off 
immediately ; the other person is a subject of the State.'' * 
Green and Langum were condemned to be executed the 
next morning. " May be so," coolly remarked Green. 

That night, as he and his comrade, Langum, were lying 
before the camp-fire, under a blanket. Green rolled over so 
that his hands, fastened with buck-skin straps, came in con- 
tact with Langum 's face, who seeming to comprehend his 
companion's intention, worked away with his teeth till he 
succeeded in unfastening the knot. Green was now able 
to reach his pocket, containing a knife, with which he 
severed the remaining cords, and those of Langum. He 
then whispered to Langum to be ready to jump up and run 
when he should set the example. Green was above the 
ordinary size, strong and athletic. The guard who had 
special watch of them, was in a sitting posture, with his 
head resting upon his knees, and had fallen asleep. Mak- 
nig a sudden leap, Green knocked the sentinel over, and 
tried to snatch his gun from him ; but the latter caught the 
skirt of the fleeing man's coat, and Green had to make a 

* Gordon's American Revolution^ iii, pp. 466-67. 


second efibrt before he could release himself from the sol- 
dier's grasp, and gladlj^ got off with the loss of a part of his 
garment. In another moment both Green and Langum 
were dashing down a declivity, and though several shots 
were fired at them, they escaped unhurt, and were soon 
beyond the reach of their pursuers. Aided by the friendly 
wilderness, and sympathizing Loyalists, they in time reached 
their old region of Buffalo creek, in now Cleveland County, 
Green at least renouncing his brief, sad experience in the 
Torv service, joined the Whigs, and battled manfully there- 
after for his country. Both Green and Langum long sur- 
vived the war, and were very worthy people. * 

Allaire records an incident, involving, if correctly reported, 
rash treatment on the part of Colonel Cleveland towards 
Doctor Johnson, whose benevolent acts, it would be sup- 
posed, would have commanded the respectful attention of all : 
'•November the first," writes Lieutenant Allaire, " Doctor 
Johnson was insulted and knocked down by Colonel Cleve- 
land, for attempting to dress the wounds of a man whom 
the Rebels had cut on the march. The Rebel officers 
would often go in amongst the prisoners, draw their swords, 
cut and wound whom their wicked and savage minds 
prompted." f There must have been something unex- 
plained in Doctor Johnson's conduct — the motive is wanting 
for an act so unofficer-like as that imputed to Colonel Cleve- 
land. While it is conceded that he was a rough frontier 
man, and particularly inimical to thieving and murderous 
Tories, yet he was kind-hearted, and his sympathies 
as responsive to misfortune as those of the tenderest 
woman. The same day. Colonel Cleveland was relieved 
of his command by Colonel Martin Armstrong, his superior 

* MS. Deposition of Colonel Wm. Porter, 1814. kindly communicated by Hon. W. P. 
Bynum ; MS. letters of Jonathan Hampton and Colonel J R. Logan, the latter giving the 
recollections of the venerable James Blanton, now eighty-two years of age, who was well 
acquainted with both Green and Langum; statements of Benjamin BiggerstafF and J. W. 
Green, furnished by W. L. Twitty, Some of the traditions represent Langums name as 

t Allaire's MS. Diary, and his newspaper narrative. 


in rank, as well as the local commandant of Surry County, 
where the troops and prisoners then were. 

The British officers had been expecting to be paroled. 
Colonel Cleveland's remark to them, at Green's trial, would 
seem to indicate the early anticipation of such an event. 
" After we were in the Moravian town about a fortnight, " 
says Allaire, " we were told we could not get paroles to 
return within the British lines ; neither were we to have any 
till we were moved over the mountains in the back parts of 
Virginia, where we were to live on hoe-cake and milk." 
Large liberties had been accorded the officers, to enable 
them to while away the tedium of captivity : so that they 
sometimes visited the neighboring Moravian settlements, or 
dined at their friends, in the country. 

When Lieutenants Taylor, Stevenson, and Allaire 
learned that there was no immediate prospect of their 
receiving paroles, they concluded that they would " rather 
trust the hand of fate," as Allaire states it in his narrative, 
and make a desperate effort to reach their friends — taking 
French leave of their American captors. Accordingly, on 
Sunday evening, about six o'clock, the fifth of November, 
they quietly decamped, taking Captain William Gist, of the 
South Carolina Loj^alists, with them ; traveling fifteen 
miles that night to the Yadkin, the fording of which they 
found very disagreeable, and pushed on twenty miles 
farther before daylight. Though pursued, the Whigs were 
misled by false intelligence from Tory sources, and soon 
gave up the chase. 

Traveling by night, and resting by day ; sometimes 
sleeping in fodder-houses, oftener in the woods ; with 
snatches of food at times — hoe-cake and dried beef on one 
occasion — supplied by sympathizing friends bj' the way; 
encountering cold rain storms, and fording streams ; guided 
some of the weary journey by Loyalist pilots, and sometimes 
following such directions as they could get ; passing over the 
Brushy Mountain, crossing the Upper Catawba, thence over 


the country to Camp's Ford of second Broad river, the 
Island Ford of Main Broad, and the old Iron Works 
of Pacolet ; barely escaping Sumter's corps at Black- 
stock's on Tyger, they at length reached Ninety Six, the 
eighteenth day after taking their leave of Bethabara, 
traveling, as they accounted distance, three hundred miles. 
These resolute adventurers suffered unspeakable fatigues 
and privations, but successfully accomplished the object of 
all their toils and self-denials. After resting a day at Ninety 
Six, they pursued their journey to Charleston. 



October— December, 1780. 

Disposition of King s Mountain Prisoners. — Proposition to Enlist them. 
— Needed for Exchange. — Congress Refers the Matter to the States 
where the Prisoners Belong. — How they Dwindled Away. — Colonel 
Ar^nstroJig Blamed. — Remnant Confined at Salisbury. — DePeyster 
and Ryerson Paroled. — A Plucky Band of Whigs Scare a large 
Tory Party. — Tarleton Frustrates Cornwallis' Design of Relieving 
Ferguson. — Intercepting Ferguson's Messengers. — Tarleton at 
Length in Motion. — His Instructiojzs. — Effect of King's Mountain 
Victory. — Ewin and Barry Alarm the Neutrals, and they Alarm 
Cornwallis. — Crowing of David Knox. — Cornwallis flees to South 
Carolina, with the Imaginary Mountaineers in Pursuit. — A Tricky 
Guide Misleading the Retiring Troops. — A Panic. — Illness of Corn- 
wallis. — Sickness and Fatality among the Troops. — Privations and 
Sufferings of the Retrograders. — Aid Rendered by the Tories.— 
Ninety Six Safe. — Cornwallis Threatens Retaliation for Execution 
of King's Mountain Prisoiiers. — Gates and Randall on the Situa- 
tio7i. — The Question Met by General Greene. — Cornwallis Drops the 
Matter. — Case of Adam Cusack. — The Widows and Orphans of 
Ninety Six District. — Good Words for King' s Mountain Victory. — 
Gates Thanks the Victors. — Washington Takes Courage. — Resolves 
of Congress. — Greene and Lee Commend the Mountaineers. — Lossing, 
Bancroft, and Irving on the Result. — The British Leaders Recognize 
the Disastrous Effects of Ferguson's Miscarriage. — Gates and fef- 
ferson's Encomiums. — King's Mountain Paves the Way for York- 
town and Independence. 

General Gates, on the twelfth of October, at Hillsboro, 
received the joyous intelligence of the victory of King's 
Mountain ; and wrote the next day to Colonel William 
Preston, near Fort Chiswell, or the Lead Mines, in the 
Virginia Valley, appointing him to prepare barracks or 
other works for the reception of the prisoners, and to take 
the superintendency of them, believing that locality a safe 


quarter, and where the necessar}' supplies could be obtained 
for their support. Colonel Preston assured General Gates 
that the Lead Mines would be an unsafe place for the pris- 
oners, as there were more Tories in that County, Montgom- 
ery, than any other known to him in Virginia ; he urged, 
besides, the further objection of its proximity to Surry and 
other disaffected regions in North Carolina, and the inimi- 
cal Cherokees to the south-west. He, therefore, suggested 
the County of Botetourt, higher up the Valley, as more 
suitable, and William Madison as a proper and younger 
person to undertake the service.* 

It would seem that General Gates balanced between two 
modes of disposing of the prisoners — one, to place them 
where they would be secure from rescue, " to be ready for 
exchange for our valuable citizens in the enem3''s hands;" 
the other, a suggestion of Colonel Campbell, to send them 
to the North, and incorporate them with the army under 
General Washington. Colonel Campbell was the bearer 
of General Gates' dispatches on the subject to Governor 
Jefferson, at Richmond, who finally referred the whole 
matter to Congress. f That body, on the twentieth of Nov- 
ember, recommended to Governor Jefferson to cause the 
King's Mountain prisoners to be secured in such manner 
and places as he might judge proper : " That a list of the 
names of the Tory prisoners be taken, distinguishing the 
States, County or District to which they severally belong, 
and transmitted to the Executives of their several States, 
who ai-e requested to take such order respecting them as the 
public security, and the laws of the respective States may 
require." | 

But various circumstances combined to render all such 
arrangements of no avail. Starting from King's Mountain 
with not to exceed six hundred prisoners, thej^ rapidly 

*MS. letter of Gates to Preston, October 13, and of Preston to Gates, October 27, 1780; 
Jefferson's Works, i, 273, 

fMS. letter of Linnaeus Smith to General Francis Preston, July 19, 1823. 
J Journals of Congress, 1780, vi, 374. 


dwindled away ; the paroles of some of them commenced 
the second day after the battle ; * one hundred, Allaire tells 
us, escaped during the march the stormy day, and part 
of the night, before reaching the Qiiaker Meadows ; half a 
dozen at another time ; Allaire and three associates escaping 
as already related, and sdll later sixteen soldiers succeeded 
in getting away from the guard at Bethabara, f while 
doubtless many others evaded the vigilance of their guards 
of which we have no record. According to the Mora\ian 
accounts, there were never more than three hundred prison- 
ers at Bethabara, fifty of whom were of Ferguson's 
Provincial corps, and five hundred Whigs to guard them, 
w^ho remained at that place nineteen days, till all the 
provisions were consumed. \ Prior to the seventh of 
November, one hundred and eighty-eight, who were inhabit- 
ants of the western country of North Carolina, were taken 
out of Colonel Armstrong's charge by the civil authorities, 
and bound over, § inferentially for their appearance at court, 
or for their good behavior ; some were dismissed, some 
paroled, but most of them enlisted — some in the three 
months' militia service, others in the North Carolina 
Continentals, and others still in the ten months' men under 
Sumter. So evident was it to General Gates, that neither 
the military nor civil officers of North Carolina had any 
authority over these prisoners, many of whom had been 
almost constantly in arms against their country since the 
surrender of Charleston, that he remonstrated with the 
State Board of War at Salisbury ; and Colonel Armstrong 
was made to answer for the injury thus done to the 
American cause. The remaining prisoners were then 
marched under a strong guard to Hillsboro. || 

'■= MS. parole of Dennis McDuff by Captain George Ledbetter, October 9th, 1780, 
preserved by Hon. W. P. Bynum. 

f Colonel Armstrong to Gen. Gates, November nth, 1780, among the Gates Papers in 
the New York Historical Society, 

J Reichel's Moravians in North Carolina, pp. 92-93. 

g Colonel Armstrong to Gen. Gates, November 7th and nth, 1780. 

H Burk's History 0/ Virginia, iv, 410. 


Including the Provincials, only about one hundred and 
thirty captives remained ; and General Greene, when he 
took the command of the Southern department, early in 
December, lamented the loss of so many of the King's 
Mountain prisoners, who, had they been retained, would 
have been the means of restoring to the service many a noble 
soldier languishing in British prisons ; nor was he without 
suspicions of something more than folly on the part of those 
who had taken such liberties to dispose of them. * The 
jail and a log house near it, at Salisbury, were ordered by 
General Greene to be picketed in, for the reception of the 
remaining prisoners, who were directed to erect huts within 
the pickets, f for their use as cooking and sleeping apart- 
ments. " The North Carolina government," wrote Colonel 
Henry Lee to General Wayne, January seventh, i"78i, 
"has in a great degree bafHed the fruits of that victory. 
The Tories captured were enlisted into the militia or draft 
service, and have all rejoined the British ; I heard General 
Greene say, j^esterday, that his last return made out sixty in 
jail, and his intelligence from the enemy declares that two 
hundred of them were actually in arms against us.'' J In 
February ensuing, Captains DePeyster and Ryerson were 
paroled to Charleston, and found on their arrival that they 
were already exchanged. § 

A singular incident occurred, in connection with the 
King's Mountain campaign, that shows what, with pluck 
and bravery, a few fearless men may accomplish. Fergu- 
son, it will be remembered, had foraging, and perhaps 
recruiting, parties out — under Colonel John Moore, Major 
Zachariah Gibbs, and, very likely, others. One of these 
parties, estimated at above two hundred and fifty, though 
probably not so numerous, encamped a night or two pre- 

'■■ Greene to Washington, December 7th, 1780. 
•f Greene's Life of Greene^ iii, pp. 78-79. 

\ Life of Gen, Henry Lee, by R, E. Lee, perfixed to Lee's Memoirs, revised edition, 
1872, p. 33, 

g Captain Ryerson's statement in the Royal Gazette, Charleston, October 27th, 1781. 


ceding the battle, at a school-house, near Holhngsworth's 
mill, on Brown's creek, in now Union County, South 
CaroHna, some twenty-five miles south of King's Mountain. 
Their camp was on a high hill, thickly covered with timber. 

A small party of eight or ten Whigs, who were lurking 
about the thickets along Brown's creek, with a view of 
gaining intelligence concerning both friends and foes, 
chanced to capture a solitary Tory, from whom they 
learned of the design of this large party of foragers to biv- 
ouac that night at the school-house near Hollingsworth's. 
Ready for adventure, the plucky Whigs, though so few in 
nuinber compared with their adversaries, thought the}' might 
gain by strategy what they could not accomplish by main 
strength ; and concluded to make an effort to give the Tory 
camp, at least, a first-rate scare. They accordingly arranged 
their plan of proceedings, which was natural and simple. 
Some time after dark they approached the enemy's camp — 
spread themselves in open order, around the hill, at some 
distance from each other, with the understanding that they 
would advance till hailed by the sentinels, then lie down till 
the guards fired, when they would arise and rush towards 
the camp, firing and shouting as best they could. 

They moved forward with great caution. The Tory 
camp-fires threw a glaring light towards the canopy of 
heaven, and lit up the forest far and near. All was joy and 
gladness in the camp. The jovial song, and merry laugh, 
indicated to the approaching Whigs that good cheer 
abounded in the camp among the friends of King George. 
In a moment all this was suddenly changed — the sentinels 
hailed^then they fired, when an unseen foe rushed on 
through the woods, yelling and screaming at the top of 
their voices — and bang ! bang ! belched forth their rifles in 
quick succession. The poor Tories were taken completely 
by surprise — a panic ensued ; and crying "mercy ! mercy I " 
they dashed through the bushes down the hill at their very 
best speed. A frightened Tory was proverbially famous in 
siich a race. 


The victorious Whigs came into the camp one after 
another, and peered into the darkness, but could only hear 
the retreating foragers darting through the woods ; the noise 
growing fainter at each successive moment ; while the 
skedaddlers, poor souls, were congratulating themselves on 
their fortunate escape from a formidable party of Rebels, led 
on, it might be, by the untiring Sumter, or such a Tory-hater 
as Tom Brandon, of Fair Forest. The Whigs had now 
gained full possession of the camp, with none to dispute 
their victory. Forage wagons were standing hither and 
thither, horses hitched to them and to the surrounding trees, 
guns stacked, cooking utensils lying about the fires, with 
hats, caps, and articles of clothing scattered in wild 

Till the grey twilight streaked the eastern sky on the 
following morning, the little patriot band kept close guard, 
expecting the momentary return of the campers ; but 
nothing of the kind transpired. The sun rose brightly, and 
mounted high above the hills, and still no report from the 
fugitives. What should be done with the horses, arms, 
baggage and baggage-wagons, was now discussed by the 
fearless captors. They transported them from the camp, 
around the hill to a secluded spot, and maintained a strict 
watch over their new quarters, and the property they had 
so adroitly captured. It must have been the day succeed- 
ing Ferguson's defeat, that one of the men on guard 
discovered a party of a dozen or fifteen horsemen rapidly 
approaching. It was thought to be the van of an army^ 
perhaps Ferguson's — coming to recover the spoils ; but the 
brave Whigs who had made the successful capture, and 
had guarded the plunder with so much vigilance, resolved 
to test the matter. 

They boldly advanced in a body, hailed the vanguard, 
while their horses were drinking at the creek. But the 
horsemen responded only by a confused flight ; and upon 
them the patriots discharged their rifles, which disabled 


one of their horses, so that his rider surrendered in dismay. 
From him the Whigs learned that liis party was just from 
King's Mountain — probabl}^ the band who had returned 
from a foray, and fired upon the mountaineers at the close of 
the action, mortally wounding Colonel Williams — and were 
now making the best of their way to their respective homes, 
or to Ninety Six, having in ^-iew no other object than their 
personal safety. Learning of Ferguson's total defeat, the 
Whig heroes now ventured to leave their secluded camp, 
and gather a party to convey away the spoils of war to a 
place of safety, where they and their friends could divide 
and enjoy them. * 

Lord Cornwallis' fine schemes of North Carolina and 
Virginia conquest, were destined to a speedy disappoint- 
ment. Awaiting at Charlotte, for the reception of supplies, 
and the return of the healthful season, to prosecute his 
military enterprise, he had reluctantly yielded to the per- 
suasions of Colonel Ferguson to make an excursion into the 
western borders of North Carolina, to encourage the friends 
of the Government in that quarter. Though Ferguson 
gave Cornwallis the assurance that his trained militia could 
be trusted, j^et his Lordship had serious doubts on that head, 
declaring that Ferguson's " own experience, as well as that 
of every other officer, was totally against him ;" but, in con- 
sequence of Ferguson's entreaties, backed with the earnest 
advice of Colonel Tarleton, the expedition was undertaken, 
Ferguson promising to return should he hear of any superior 
force approaching him. 

Cornwallis, failing for some time to receive any definite 
information from Ferguson, evidently commenced to feel 
anxious concerning his situation. In the Virginia Gazette, 
of October eleventh, 1780, we find among the latest items of 
intelligence from the southward, one to the efiect that " on 
the thirtieth of September, about eight hundred of the enemy, 
with two field pieces, were on their march, three miles in 

*Saye's Memoir of Mcjunkin, 


advance from Charlotte, on the road leading to Beattie's 
Ford, on Catawba river, supposed to be intended to support 
Major Ferguson, who was, with a party, in the neighbor- 
hood of Burke Court House." 

If a relief force was sent at all, it was not pushed far 
enough forward to accomplish the purpose. Tarleton's ill- 
ness of a fever — yellow fever, as Major Hanger terms it — 
may have caused procrastination. " Tarleton is better," 
wrote Lord Cornwallis to Ferguson on the twenty-third of 
September. As he recovered, he was pressed to engage in 
this service, but found excuses for not undertaking it. " My 
not sending relief to Ferguson," observed Lord Cornwallis, 
" although he was positively ordered to retire, was entirely 
owing to Tarleton himself; he pleaded weakness from the 
remains of a fever, and refused to make the attempt, 
although I used the most earnest entreaties." * 

Tarleton informs us, that the County of Mecklenburg, in 
which Chai'lotte was situated, and the adjoining County of 
Rowan, were more hostile to England than any other por- 
tion of America ; that so vigilant were the Whig troops and 
people of that region, that " very few, out of a great number 
of messengers, could reach Charlotte, in the beginning of 
October, to give intelligence of Ferguson's situation." At 
length Cornwallis received confused reports of Ferguson's 
miscarriage. He dispatched Tarleton on the tenth of that 
month, with his Light Infantry, the British Legion, and a 
three-pounder, to go to the assistance of Ferguson, as no 
certain intelligence had arrived of his defeat : though it 
was rumored, with much confidence, by the Americans in 
the neighborhood of Charlotte. Tarleton's instructions 
were to re-inforce Ferguson wherever he could find him, 
and to draw his corps to the Catawba, if, after the junction, 
advantage could not be obtained over the mountaineers ; or, 
upon the certainty of his defeat, at all events to oppose the 
entrance of the victorious Americans into South Carolina — 

* Cornwallis' Correspondence^ i, 59. 


fearing they might seriously threaten Ninety Six and 

The effect of King's Mountain battle on the Tories of 
the country, and on Lord Cornwallis and his officers at 
Charlotte, may be best inferred from actual facts explana- 
tory of the matter. Robert Henry, who had been so pain- 
fully transfixed in a British charge on Chronicle's men, was 
conveyed to his home on the South Fork, a few miles of 
the way on Saturday evening after the battle, and the 
remainder on Sunday, Hugh Ewin and Andrew Barry, two 
of his brave companions, acting as his escort. On Monday 
morning these two friends came to see him, and learned the 
happy effects of- a poultice of wet, warm ashes, applied to 
his wounds by his good mother. While there, several 
neutrals, as they termed themselves, but really Tories in 
disguise, called to learn the news of the battle, when the 
following dialogue took place between them and Ewin and 
Barry : 

" Is it certain," inquired one of the Tories, "that Colonel 
Ferguson is really killed, and his army defeated and taken 

" Yes, it is certain," replied the Whigs, "for we saw 
Ferguson after he was dead, and his army prisoners of 

" How many men had Ferguson?" 

" Nearly, but not quite, twelve hundred," was the reply. 

"Where," asked the Tories, "did the Whigs get men 
enough to defeat him?" 

"They had," responded the patriots, "the South Carolina 
and Georgia refugees. Colonel Graham's Lincoln County 
men, some from Virginia, some from the head of the Yad- 
kin, some from the head of the Catawba, some from over 
the mountains, and some pretty much from everywhere." 

" Tell us," eagerly inquired the neutrals, "how it hap- 
pened, and all about it." 

* Tarleton's Campaigns, pp. i6o, i6i, 165. 


"Well," said Evvin and Bariy, "we met near Gilbert 
Town, and found that the foot troops could not ovei'take Fer- 
guson, and we took between six and seven hundred horse- 
men, leaving as many or more footmen to follow; and we 
overtook Ferguson at King's Mountain, where we sur- 
rounded and defeated him."' 

"Ah!" said one of the Tories, "that will not do — 
between six and seven hundred surrounding nearly twelve 
hundred. It would have taken more than two thousand to 
surround and take Colonel Ferguson." 

" But," responded the Whigs, "we were all of us blue 
hens' chickens — real fighters, and no mistake." 

"There must have been," said the Tories, "of your 
foot and horse over four thousand in all. We see what you 
are about — that your aim is to catch Lord Cornwallis 

Thus ended the dialogue, not more than two hours after 
sunrise on Monday, the ninth of October ; and the neutrals 
or Tories quickly took their departure. It was reported 
that they immediately swam a horse across the swollen 
Catawba, by the side of a canoe, and hastened to give Lord 
Cornwallis the earliest news of Ferguson's defeat. 

As soon as the intelligence reached Charlotte, it produced 
a great excitement among all classes. 

"Have you heard the news," inquired one officer, of 
the guard? 

" No, what news ? " 

" Whjr," said the first, " Colonel Ferguson is killed, and 
his whole army defeated and taken prisoners." 

" How can that be," said the doubter — " where did the 
men come from to accomplish such a feat?" 

"Some of them," replied the man of news, "were 
South Carolina and Georgia refugees, some from Virginia, 
some from the heads of the Yadkin and Catawba, some from 
over the mountains, and some from everywhere. They 
met at or near Gilbert Town, about two thousand despera- 


does on horseback, calling themselve blue hens' chickens ; 
and started in pursuit of Ferguson, leaving as many foot- 
men to follow. They overtook Ferguson at a place called 
King's Mountain, where they surrounded his army, killed 
that gallant officer, defeated his men, and took the survivors 

" Can this be true?" despondingly inquired the first 

"As true as the gospel," replied the other; "and we 
may look out for breakers." 

" God bless us ! " ejaculated the dejected officer of the 

David Knox, a kinsman of President Polk, who was a 
prisoner, but enjoyed the privilege of the town, a man full 
of fun and frolic, hearing this colloquy, jumped upon a pile 
of fire-wood beside the street, slapped his hands and thighs, 
and crowed like a rooster, exclaiming. Day is at hand! * 

It was accounts like these, largely colored and exagger- 
ated by the fear-stricken Tories, that reached Cornwallis' 
ears, and so alarmed him that he sent out Tarleton to aid 
Ferguson, if yet in a condition to be relieved, and finally 
induced his Lordship to depart in hot haste from Charlotte, 
with all his army. Tarleton proceeded a south-westerly 
course, fifteen or twenty miles, to Smith's Ford, below the 
Forks of the Catawba, where he received certain intelli- 
gence of the melancholy fate of Ferguson, and crossed the 
river "to give protection" as he says, "to the fugitives," — 
a small number of whom, he adds, his light troops picked 
up, all of which must have been the result of his vivid 

At length, while Tarleton was absent, Cornwallis re- 
ceived definite information of Ferguson's downfall ; and 
Tarleton gives a sombre picture of the unhappy influence 
it exerted upon both the British and Tories. "Added," 

*MS. narrative of Robert Henry, who heard the dialogue between the neutrals and 
Ewin and Barry, and had the particulars of the interview of the British officers, from David 
Knox himself. 


he says, " to the depression and fear it communicated to the 
Loyahsts upon the borders, and to the southward, the effect 
of such an important event was sensibly felt by Lord 
Cornwallis at Charlotte Town. The weakness of his army, 
the extent and poverty of North Carolina, the want of 
knowledge of his enemy's designs, and the total ruin of his 
militia, presented a gloomy prospect at the commencement 
of the campaign. A farther progress by the route which 
he had undertaken, could not possibly remove, but would 
undoubtedly increase his difficulties ; he, therefore, formed 
a sudden determination to quit Charlotte Town, and pass 
the Catawba river. The army was ordered to move, and 
expresses were dispatched to recall Lieutenant-Colonel 
Tarleton." * 

About sunset, on the evening of the fourteenth of Octo- 
ber, the British ■axray took up its line of march towards 
the Old Nation Ford on the Catawba. They had for a 
guide William McCafTerty, an Irishman, who had for 
several years been a merchant at Charlotte ; remaining 
there when the enemy came, endeavoring to save his 
property ; but whatever were his professions to the British, 
he played his new friends a sharp trick — a shabby one, no 
doubt, in their estimation. About two miles below Char- 
lotte, he led them on a wrong road towards Park's, since 
Barnett's mill ; he at length suggested that they must , be 
out of the way, and he would ride a little to the left to get 
righted ; but as soon as out of their sight, he left them to 
their fate. They were two miles to the right of the road they 
intended to have taken — the night was dark, and, being 
near Cedar creek, they were intercepted by high hills and 
deep ravines. Endeavoring to file to the left, to regain the 
right road, they became separated into different parties, 
and kept up a hallooing to learn which way their comrades 
had gone. By midnight they were three or four miles 
apart, and appeared to be panic-struck, lest the Americans 

'■'Tarleton's Campaigns, i66. 


— the dreaded mountaineers — should come upon them in 
their pitiful situation. Thej' did not get together until noon 
the next da}', about seven miles from Charlotte. Owing to 
the difficult passes they took, and the darkness of the 
night, together with the scare that befell them, the rear 
guard left behind them near twent)' wagons, says Tarleton 
— forty, saj-s General Graham — and considerable boot}-, 
including a printing press and other stores, together with the 
baggage of Tarleton's Legion.* 

Reaching the Old Nation Ford, the river was too high 
to cross with safety. In consequence of a dangerous fever, 
which suddenly attacked Lord Cornwallis, as the result of 
heavy rains and severe exposures, and the want of forage 
and provisions, the army remained two days in an anxious 
and miserable situation in the Catawba Indian settlement, 
until his physicians declared that his Lordship's condition 
would endure the motion of a wagon. Meanwhile, the 
treacherous pilot, JNIcCafferty, had hastened to the Whig 
Colonel Davie's encampment, reaching there early in 
the morning, and communicating the tidings of the 
enemy's retreat. Davie, with his small squadron of 
cavalry, hung upon their rear and flanks, but could 
gain no advantage over them. Crossing the Catawba 
near Twelve Mile creek, the army at length reached 
Winnsboro, a distance of some seventy miles, on the 
twenty-ninth of the month, after a two weeks' march; 
encountering sickness, difficulties, and privations of the 
most serious character. 

Major Hanger relates, that he and five other officers had 
the j'ellow fever, as he terms it, and were placed in wagons 
when the army evacuated Charlotte ; that, in passing 
swollen streams, the straw on which they lay in the 
vehicles frequently became wet, which aggravated their 
sickness, and all, save himself only, died of fatigue and 

"i- General Graham's Revolutionary History 0/ Nortit Carolina, in North Carolina 
University Magazine, April, 1856, pp. 101-2 ; Tarleton's Campaigns, 167 


exposure during the first week of the march, and were 
buried in tlie woods, while the jaded troops were moving 
forward as rapidly as possible. So low was Major Hanger 
reduced, that his bones protruded through his skin, and his 
life was onl}- saved by the use of opium and port wine.* 

But for their Tory associates, the sufTerings of the army, 
great as they were, would have been still more aggravated. 
For several days in succession it rained without inter- 
mission ; the soldiers had no tents, and the roads were over 
their shoes in water and mud. At night the army en- 
camped in the woods, in a most unhealthy climate, and for 
many days, Stedman adds, they were entirely without rum. 
The water they drank was frequently as thick as in puddles 
by the road side. Sometimes they had beef and no bread ; 
at other times bread, or corn, and no beef. For five days 
the troops were supported upon Indian corn alone, which 
was gathered as it stood in the field, five ears of which 
were the allowance for two soldiers for twenty-four hours. 
The Tory militia taught the regulars how best to adapt it for 
use. Taking their tin canteens, they would cut them up, and 
punch holes through the strips with their bayonets, and then 
use them as a rasp, or grater, on which to grate their corn, 
and prepare it for cooking. The idea was communicated 
to the Adjutant-General, and afterwards adopted through- 
out the army, f 

By their acquaintance with the country, being mounted 
on horseback, and inured to the climate, the Tory militia 
would go forth daily inquest of provisions, being frequently 
obliged to pass through rivers, creeks, woods and swamps, 
to secure beef cattle for the support of the army. "With- 
out their assistance," says Stedman, " it would have been 
impossible to have supplied the troops in the field." 
Some of these men, when a creek was reached, difficult, 
from its steep banks, and its clayey, slippery soil, to cross, 

* Li/e of Hanger, ii, pp. 408-11. 
I Stedman's ATnsrican War, ii, 224 


would take the place of the horses, being harnessed in their 
stead, and drag the wagons through the stream. Sted- 
man, one of Cornwallis' officers, gives us some inklings of 
the treatment of these Tory benefactors of their army, by 
the British officers: "We are sorry to say," observes this 
candid historian, " that in return for these exertions, the 
militia were maltreated by abusive language, and even beaten 
by some officers in the Quarter-Master General's depart- 
ment. In consequence of this ill usage, several of them 
left the army the next morning forever, choosing to run 
the risk of meeting the resentment of their enemies, rather 
than submit to the derision and abuse of those to whom they 
looked up as friends.* 

Cornwallis, with his army, was now at Winnsboro, 
nearly midway between Camden and Ninety Six, and 
within supporting distance of either. According to Lord 
Rawdon, the second in command, it is evident that the 
British leaders were happy, after all their toils and sufferings, 
to find that "Ninety Six was safe"! — that the much- 
dreaded mountaineers had fortunately turned their faces 
northwardly, instead of towards the fortress where Cruger 
commanded, and which they might easily have reached 
long before it could possibly have been relieved by the 
storm, mud, and sick-bound army en route from Charlotte to 

Through the Tories, doubtless. Lord Cornwallis learned 
in time of the executions by the mountaineers of the Loyal- 
ists atBickerstaff's, near Gilbert Town, and wrote to the 
American commanders threatening retaliation. General 
Gates, in transmitting these complaints to Congress, 
expressed the opinion that " no person ought to be executed, 
but after legal conviction, and by order of the supreme civil 
or military authority, in the department where the offence 
is committed ; but I must confess my astonishment at Lord 

* Stedman, ii, 225. 

f Cornwallis' Correspondence, i, 496. 


Cornwallis' finding fault with a cruelt}' he and his officers 
are constantly practising — this is crying rogue first." 

Commenting on this passage, Henr}^ S. Randall pertin- 
ently observes: "Supreme civil or military authority " was 
not much better than a name, in the locality and exigency ; 
and was quite as well represented, in our judgment, as it 
could elsewhere have been, in the intelligent and respon- 
sible gentlemen — for emphatically they were such — who, 
by their own danger and exertions, had done what no 
formally constituted " authority" was able to do; and, if 
the victors of King's Mountain hung fewer men than the 
documents found on British officers clearl}' proved had 
been executed of Americans by their orders, they enforced 
less, we believe, than the full measure of rightful and 
proper retaliation. And there is not a doubt that the prac- 
tical effect of the measure was good, not only on the British 
Lieutenant-General, but on the parricides who were so keen 
to scent out, among their countrymen, the breakers of 
enforced and v/ithdrawn paroles. The hunt became less 
intently amusing, when it was understood that the hunter 
placed the noose that had strangled his victim, around his 
own neck, in the event of his capture. * 

The threatened retaliation by Cornwallis, addressed in 
the first instance to General Smallwood, and then to Gen- 
eral Gates, was left as a legacy for General Greene, on his 
succeeding Gates in the command of the Southern depart- 
ment ; and he met it in a calm and dignified manner. " I 
am," he wrote to his Lordship, " too much a stranger to the 
transactions at Gilbert Town to reply fully to that subject. 
They must have been committed before my arrival in the 
department, and bj' persons under the character of volun- 
teers, who were independent of the army. However, if 
there was anything done in that affair contrary to the prin- 
ciples of humanity and the law of nations, and for which 
they had not the conduct of your army as a precedent, I 
shall be ever ready to testify my disapprobation of it. The 

* Life o/ Jefferson^ i, 282. 


first example was furnished on your part, as appears by the 
list of unhappy sufferers enclosed ; and it might have been 
expected, that the friends of the unfortunate should follow 
it. Punishing capitally for a breach of military parole, is 
a severity that the principles of modern war will not author- 
ize, unless the inhabitants are to be treated as a conquered 
people, and subject to all the rigor of military government. 
The feelings of mankind will forever decide, when the 
rights of humanity are invaded. I leave them to judge of 
the tendency of your Lordship's order to Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Balfour after the action near Camden, of Lord 
Rawden's proclamation, and of Tarleton's laying waste the 
country, and distressing the inhabitants, who were taught 
to expect pi-otection and security, if they observed but a 
neutrality. Sending the inhabitants of Charleston to St. 
Augustine, contrary to the articles of capitulation, is a 
violation which I have also to represent, and which I hope 
3^our Lordship will think 3^ourself bound to I'edress." 

The enclosed list referred to was this : " William Stroud 
and Mr. Dowell, executed near Rocky Mount, without a 
trial, by order of Lieutent-Colonel Turnbull ; Richard 
Tucker, Samuel Andrews, and John Miles, hanged at 
Camden by order of Lord Cornwallis ; Mr. Johnson, hanged 
since the action of Blackstocks, by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Tarleton ; about thirty persons hanged at Augusta by 
Colonel Browne ; Adam Cusick hanged at Pedee by one 
Colonel Mills."* 

'•'Gordon's Avierican IVar, iv. pp. 28-29. 

The Colonel Mills here referred to, must not be confounded with Colonel Ambrose 
Mills, uf King's Mountain memory, one of the unfortunates executed at Bickerstaff's. 
William Henry Mills, mentioned by General Greejie. belonged in the Cheraw region, and 
served in the South Carolina Provincial Congress, early in the contest; but sub'-equently 
joined the British, and was made a Colonel, Surviving the war, he retired to Jamaica, and 
then to England, where he died in 1807. 

But from Judge James' Life 0/ Marion, and Gregg's History of the CheTaws. it is very 
questionable if Colonel Mills was responsible for the execution of Cusack. Those well- 
iiiformed writers clearly charge that act upon Colonel Wemyss. Cusack accused. 
according to one account, of no other crime than refusing to transport some British officers 
over a ferry, and shooting at them across the river ; while another statement has it, that he 
shot at the black servant of a Tory officer, John Brockington, whom he knew, across Black 
crfeek. Taken prisoner by the enemy, he was tried, and condemned on the evidence of 
the negro. 


Here happily ended the threatened retaHation on the 
part of Lord Cornwalhs for the execution of the LoyaUst 
leaders taken at King's Mountain. It was well that his 
Lordship refrained from exercising a power that could only 
have fanned the flames of desolation throughout the south- 
ern borders. The inhumanities practiced on both sides m 
that distracted quarter were already but too deplorable in 
their character, and needed not fresh provocations to inten- 
sif}" their brutality, or add to the frequency of their 
occurrence. It was generally said, and beheved, that in 
the district of Ninety Six alone, fourteen hundred unhappy 
widows and orphans were left to bemoan the fate of their 
unfortunate fathers, husbands and brothers, killed and mur- 
dered during the course of the war. * 

Good words for the victory and victors of King's Moun- 
tain have not been wandng. General Gates returned thanks, 
through Colonel Campbell and his associates, " to the brave 
officers and soldiers under your command, for your and 
their glorious behavior in the action ; the records of the 
war will transmit your names and theirs to posterity, with 
the highest honors and applause;" and he desired to 
express the sense he entertained of " the great service they 
had done their country." General Washington proclaimed 
the result in General Orders to the army, as "an import- 
ant object gained," and '^ a proof of the spirit and resources 
of the countr}? ; " while Congress expressed in its resolves, 
" a high sense of the spirited and military conduct of 
Colonel Campbell, and the officers and privates of the 
militia under his command, displayed in the action of 
October seventh, in which a complete victory was obtained." 
This marked success over Ferguson, and the heroic conduct 
of the riflemen at Guilford, convinced General Greene, that 
"the militia of the back country are formidable." " Camp- 
befi's glorious success at King's Mountain," was the terse 
encomium of Lieutenant-Colonel Lee, of the Legion 

"'Moultrie's yJ/(?OT(J2Vj, ii, 242. 


Cavalry. " It was a sharp action," said Chief Justice 
Marshall, gained by "the victorious mountaineers." 

" No battle," says Lossing, " during the war, was more 
obstinately contested than this ; it completely crushed the 
spirits of the Loyalists, and weakened, beyond recovery, 
the royal power in the Carolinas." * "The victory at 
King's Mountain," observes Bancroft, " which in the spirit 
of the American soldiers was like the rising at Concord, in 
its effects like the success at Bennington, changed the 
aspects of the war. The Loyalists of North Carolina no 
longer dared rise.- It fired the patriots of the two Caro- 
linas with fresh zeal. It encouraged the fragments of the 
defeated and scattered American army to seek each other, 
and organize themselves anew. It quickened the North 
Carolina Legislature to earnest efforts. It encouraged 
Virginia to devote her resources to the country south of her 
border. The appearance on the frontiers of a numerous 
enemy from settlements beyond the mountains, whose very 
names had been unknown to the British, took Cornwallis 
by surprise, and their success was fatal to his intended 
expedition. He had hoped to step with ease from one 
Carolina to the other, and from those to the conquest of 
Virginia ; and he had now no choice but to retreat." f 

When all the circumstances, continues the same distin- 
guished historian, are considered, the hardihood of the 
conception, the brilliancy of the execution, and the 
important train of consequences resulting from it, there 
was nothing in the North more so. except the surrender 
at Saratoga. It is not to be imagined, that the assemb- 
lage of the troops was an accidental and tumultuous 
congregation of men, merely seeking wild adventures. 
On the contrary, although each step in the progress of the 
enterprise seemed to be characterized by a daring impulse, 
yet the purpose had been coolly conceived, and its execution 

"Field Book of the Revolution, ii, pp. 428-29. 
t History 0/ the United states, x, 340, 


deliberately planned in a temper of not less wisdom than 
hardihood. * 

Irving declares, that "the battle of King's Mountain, 
inconsiderable as it was in the numbers engaged, turned 
the tide of Southern warfare. The destruction of Ferguson 
and his corps gave a complete check to the expedition of 
Cornwallis. He began to fear for the safety of South Caro- 
lina, liable to such sudden irruptions from the mountains ; 
lest, while he was facing to the north, these hordes of 
stark-riding warriors might throw themselves behind him, 
and produce a popular combustion in the Province he had 
left. He resolved, therefore, to return with all speed to 
that Province, and provide for its security." * 

Lord Cornwallis fully recognized the extent of the great 
disaster. Plis sudden retreat into South Carolina showed 
it. Ferguson, he said, " had taken infinite pains with 
some of the militia of Ninety Six," and had confidence that 
the}' would fight well, which his Lordship doubted ; and 
yet Cornwallis suffered him to go on a distant service, 
without any regulars, artillery, or cavalry for his support, 
and the result was, as his Lordship acknowledges, that 
Ferguson was "totally defeated at King's Mountain." 
The discouraging effect of that crushing disaster on the 
Tories, may well be judged from Cornwallis' dispatch to 
Sir Henr}^ Clinton: "The militia of Ninety six," he 
observes, " on which alone we could place the smallest 
dependence, was so totally disheartened by the defeat of 
Ferguson, that of that whole district we could with diffi- 
culty assemble one hundred ; and even those, I am con- 
vinced, would not have made the smallest resistance if they 
had been attacked." "The defeat of Major Ferguson," 
wrote Lord Rawdon, "had so dispirited this part of the 
countrjr, and indeed the Loyal subjects were so wearied by 
the long continuance of the campaign, that Lieutenant- 

* MS. statement of Hon. George Bancroft, preserved by General Preston. 
•[-Irving's ll'iis/ii/i^tofz, \\, pp. 193-94. 


Colonel Cruger, commanding at Ninety Six, sent informa- 
tion to Lord Cornwallis, that the whole district had deter- 
mined to submit as soon as the Rebels should enter it;" 
and, a Httle later, Lord Cornwallis wrote: "The constant 
incursions of refugees, North Carolinians, Back Mountain 
nien, and the perpetual risings in different parts of this 
Province, the invariable successes of all those parties against 
our militia, keep the 'whole country in continual alarm, and 
render the assistance of regular troops everj'vvhere neces- 
sary. " * 

Sir Henry Clinton, the British Commander-in-chief in 
America, blamed Lord Cornwallis for detaching Ferguson 
without any support of regular troops, when his Lordship 
had previously stated, that Ferguson's hopes of success on 
his Tory militia "were contrary to the experience of the 
army, as well as of Major Ferguson himself; " and " that 
his Lordship," wrote Sir Henry, "should, after this opinion., 
not onl}^ suffer Colonel Ferguson to be detached without 
support, but put such a river as the Catawba between him 
and Ferguson, was a matter of wonder to Sir H. Clinton 
and all who knew it." f 

"Great and glorious I" was the exclamation of General 
Gates, when the tidings of the grand triumph of the King's 
Mountain men reached him. " That memorable victory," 
declared the patriot Jefferson, "wasthe joyful annunciation of 
that turn of the tide of success, which terminated the Revo- 
lutionary war with the seal of independence." And richly 
did the heroes, who marched under Campbell's banners, 
deserve all the praise so generously bestowed upon them. 
King's Mountain paved the wajr for the successive ad- 
vantages gained by the American arms at First Dam Ford, 
Blackstocks, Cowpens, Guilford, and Eutaw ; and ulti- 
mately for the crowning victory of York Town, with the 
glorious fruition of " INDEPENDENCE FOREVER." 

*• Cornwallis' Correspondence, i, pp. 63, 80-Si, 4g7-c 
X Clinton's Observations on Stedinan. 



Gen. "William Campbell. 

His Scotch-Irish Ancestry. — His Father an ^arly Holston Explorer. — 
William Campbell's Birth and Education, — Settles oil Holston. — A 
Captain on Dunmore's Campaign. — Raised a Company for the first 
Virginia Regiment in ITJS- — Returns for the Defence of the Fron- 
tiers. — His Military Appointments. — Rencounter with and Hanging 
of the Bandit Hopkins.— Suppressing Tories tip New River. — 
King's Mountain Expedition — his Bravery Vindicated. — Public 
Thanks for his Sen/ices — Marches to Long Island of Holston. — ■ 
At Whitzells Mills and Guilford. — Resig?is from Ill-treatment. — 
Made Brigadier -General. — Serves under LaFayette. — Death and 
Character. — Notices of his King's Moiintain Officers. 

The Campbell family, from which the hero of King's 
Mountain descended, were originally from Inverary, Argyll- 
shire, connected with the famous Campbell clans of the 
Highlands of Scotland ; and emigrated to Ireland near the 
close of the reign of Qiieen Elizabeth — about the year 
1600. The northern portion of Ireland received, at that 
period, large accessions of Scotch Protestants, who proved 
valuable and useful citizens. Here the Campbells continued 
to live for several generations, until at length, John Camp- 
bell, with a family of ten or twelve children, removed to 
America in 1726, and settled first in Donegal, Lancaster 
County, Pennsylvania, where we find one of his sons, Pat- 
rick Campbell, born in 1690, serving as a constable in 1729. 
About 1730, John Campbell, with three of his sons, Patrick 
among them, removed from Pennsylvania to what was then 
a part of Orange, now Augusta County, in the rich valley 
of Virginia.* Another authority assigns 1738 as the time 
of this migration.! 

*MS. statements of Gov. David Campbell ; Foote's Sketches of Virginia, second series, 
pp. 114, 117 ; Rupp's History of Lancaster County, Pa., 185 ; IMombert's Lancaster, 120. 
\ R. A. Brock, Esq.. in Richmond Standard, July loth, 1880, 


Among the children of Patrick Campbell, who thus early 
settled in Western Virginia, was Charles, who seems to 
have been born in Ireland before the removal of the family 
to the New World. He became a prominent and efficient 
pioneer of the Augusta Valley. He early married a Miss 
Buchanan, whose father, John Buchanan, Sr., had figured 
in the wars of Scotland ; and from this union sprang 
William Campbell, who subsequently led the Scotch-Irish 
patriots of the Holston Valle)' against Ferguson at King's 
Mountain. He was born in Augusta County in 1745 ; and, 
though reared on that remote frontier, and amid the excite- 
ments and dangers of the French and Indian war of 1755- 
63, yet he was enabled, as an only son, to secure the best 
education under the best teachers of that period — David 
Robinson, a fine scholar, having been, it is believed, among 
his instructors, as he was of many others of the youth of 
Augusta of that day. Young Campbell acquired a correct 
knowledge of the English language, ancient and modern 
history, and several branches of the mathematics.* 

His father, Charles Campbell, was not only an entei'pris- 
ing farmer of Augusta, but early engaged in western 
exploration, and in the acquisition of the rich wild lands 
of the country. In April, 1748, he made an exploring tour 
down the Holston, in company with Doctor Thomas 
Walker, Colonel James Patton, James Wood, and John 
Buchanan, together with a number of hunters and wood- 
men. It was on this occasion that Campbell located a fine 
t^act on the North Fork of Holston, where valuable salt 
springs were afterward discovered, for which he obtained a 
patent from the Governor of Virginia in 1753. It proved a 
great benefit alike to his descendants and the country. In 
an old manuscript written apparently in 1750, it is stated 
that "John Buchanan and Charles Campbell do not go 
out this fall " — indicating a contemplated removal, probably 

*Co\. Arthur Campbell's MS. Sketch of Gen. William Campbell; Gov. Campbell's MS. 

380 KIXG 'S MO mYTAnV 

to the Holston frontiers. As early as 1742, Charles Camp- 
bell \vas enrolled as a militia-man in the company of John 
Buchanan; and, in 1752, he was chosen a Captain, and 
doubtless rendered service in the defence of the Augusta 
Valle}' during the long period of Indian irruptions and 
disturbances of Braddock's war. In the latter part of his 
life he became intemperate, and cut short his career, dying 
early in 1767.* 

At his father's death, William Campbell, then a 3'oung 
man of about twenty-two, resolved to remove with his 
mother and four young sisters, f to the frontiers of Flolston. 
They migrated there, locating on a fine tract called Aspen- 
vale, twent3'-one miles east of the Wolf Hills, now the 
pleasant town of Abingdon, and one mile west of the 
Seven Mile Ford. In 1773, he was appointed among the 
earliest Justices of Fincastle County, and, in 1774, a Captain 
of the militia. Although an only son, and inheriting a 
considerable propert}-, he never yielded to the fashionable 
follies of young men of fortune. Devoted to the opening 
and culture of a plantation in the wilderness, nothing 
occurred to interfere with the routine of farm life till the 
breaking out of the Indian war in 1774, "'hen he raised a 
company of young men, and joining Colonel Christian's regi- 
ment, pursued rapidly to overtake Colonel Andrew Lewis, 
who had preceded them to Point Pleasant, at the mouth 
of the Kenhawa, where a decisive battle was fought, beating 
back the Shawanoes and allied tribes. Colonel Christian's 
re-inforcement, though they made a forced march, did not 
reach the battle-ground dll midnight succeeding the engage- 
ment. The next morning the army crossed the Ohio, hasten- 
ing to join Lord Dunmore, with another division, at the Pick- 

*MS. records of Aiiausta County, Va. ; Winlerbotham's -•);«<•?-!>«, iii, 230; Morse's 
Geography, i^A 1797; do , ed. 1S05. i, 6S8 ; Scott's Gcograpliical Dictionary, lioi; Guthrie's 
Gco^ra /i/ii', I R I ^ ii. 472; MS Diary of Dr. Thomas Walker, which alone shows the correct 
date of Cti.irics Campbell's exploration of the Holston Valley. 

i-Thc eldest, Elizabeth, married John Taylor; Jane, Thomas Tate; Margaret. Col. 
Arthur Campbell ; and Ann, Richard Poston — ail men of great respectability, leaving 
numerous descendants. 


away plains on the Scioto, where liis Lordship concluded a 
treaty of peace with the defeated and humbled Indian 
tribes. Thus was Captain Campbell, with all his zeal to 
engage in active service, and after having traveled hun- 
dreds of miles through the wilderness from south-western 
Virginia to the heart of the Ohio country, compelled to 
sheathe his sword, and return again to his peaceful home on 
the Holston. 

The aggressions of the British ministrj' on the rights 
of American freemen had alread}- made a deep impression 
on the minds of the frontier people. While at Fort Gower, 
at the mouth of the Hockhocking, returning from the Scioto 
expedition, the troops declared, on the fifth of November, 
1774 — Captain Campbell, no doubt, among the number — 
that, " as the love of Liberty, and attachment to the real 
interests and just rights of America outweigh every other 
consideration, we resolve that we will exert every power with- 
in us for the defence of American Liberty, and for the support 
of her just rights and privileges." And on the twentieth of 
January ensuing, Colonels Preston and Christian, Arthur and 
William Campbell, together with William Edmondson, 
Reverend Charles Cummings, and other leaders of Fin- 
castle County, comprising the Holston settlements, sent a 
calm and patriotic address to the Continental Congress, 
announcing, that '' if no pacific measures shall be proposed 
or adopted by Great Britain, and our enemies attempt to 
dragoon us out of those inestimable privileges which we are 
entitled to as subjects, and reduce us to slavery, we declare 
that we are deliberately and resolutely determined never to 
surrender them to any power upon earth but at the expense 
of our lives. These are our real, though unpolished, senti- 
ments of liberty and loyality, and in them we are resolved 
to live and die." * These were noble declarations of 
William Campbell and associates, proclaimed three months 
before the first clang of arms at Lexington, four anterior to 

^^ American Archives, Fourth Series, i, 963, 116 


the patriotic resolves of the people of Tvlecklenburg, five 
before the deadly strife on Bunker Hill, and nearly a year 
and six months before the immortal Declaration of Inde- 
pendence by Congress. These sentiments of the men 
of Holston formed the key-note of their patriotic efforts 
throughout the Revolution — and they never flagged a mo- 
ment, while life lasted, till their liberties were secured. 

At length war burst upon the country. Captain Camp- 
bell, who had pledged himself at Fort Gower, in 1774, to 
exert every power within him in the defence of American 
liberty, and subsequently renewed the solemn declaration 
"to live and die" in support of the great principles for 
which Bruce and Wallace, and Hampden and Sydney had, 
in the past, contended, now entered warmly into the con- 
test, raising the first company in south-western Virginia in 
support of the common cause, marching to Williamsburg 
with his hunting-shirt riflemen, in September, i775) ^'^d 
taking their place in the First Virginia regiment under the 
command of the famous Patrick Henry. His commission 
as Captain bore date December fifteenth of that year. 
Owing to the regiment's confinement to the inactivities 
of camp life, and the slights and indignities meted out to 
him, Henry at length resigned the command, when his men 
who were devoted to him, went into mourning. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Christian succeeded to the command, and the 
regiment was placed on Continental establishment, under 
General Andrew Lewis ; and shared in dislodging Dunmore 
from Gwyn's Island, July ninth, 1776 — the British not 
fancying a too close contact with the frontier riflemen, 
exclaimed, as they came in sight, "the shirt-men are 
coming!" when they, panic-stricken, precipitately evacu- 
ated the Island. 

Shortly after, intelligence came that the Cherokees, 
instigated by British agents and emissaries, had attacked 
the frontiers, when Colonel Christian resigned, and returned 
to the Holston country to lead an expedition against the 


hostile Indians. When Captain Campbell heard of these 
border troubles, he felt not a little uneasy on account of the 
unprotected situation of his mother and sisters ; and wrote 
to Major Arthur Campbell, expressing the hope that all the 
women and children in the Holston country might be 
gathered into forts, thus enabling the men to engage in 
repelling the enemy, adding: "I have the most cogent 
reasons for endeavoring to resign, and can, I think, do so 
with honor ; and if I possibly can, I shall be with you 
soon." * He felt it was his duty to repair to the frontiers, 
and lend all his aid in their defence. But he was not able 
to leave the service till near the close of the year, and thus 
failed to share in Christian's expedition against the Chero- 
kees. But the delaj', perhaps, aided him in securing a 
noble companion for life, in the person of Miss Elizabeth 
Henry, a sister of his old commander, Patrick Henry — the 
imrivalled orator and statesman of the Revolution. During 
this service of over a j'ear in eastern Virginia, Captain 
Campbell acquired a practical knowledge of military tactics, 
and the discipline of an army, which proved of great value 
to him in his subsequent campaigns to King's Mountain 
and Guilford. 

On his return home he found, the Cherokees, having 
been subdued, were quiet for awhile. The large County 
of Fincastle, embracing much of south-western Virginia 
and all of Kentucky, was sub-divided ; and on the organi- 
zation of Washington County, in Januarjr, 1777, he was con- 
tinued a memberof the Justices' Court, and made Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the militia, Arthur Campbell having been made 
County Lieutenant or Colonel Commandant, and Evan 
Shelby, Colonel. At this term of the court, William Camp- 
bell, William Edmondson, and two others were appointed 
commissioners to hh'c zuagons to bring up the County salt 
allotted by the Government and Council, and receive and 
distribute the same, making it necessary to wagon the salt 

«MS. letter, August ist, 1776. 


fully four hundred miles, over rough roads, from Williams- 
burg. This was several 5'ears before the rich salt wells were 
discovered on Colonel Campbell's lands on North Holston. 
In the fall of this year. Colonel Campbell, having been 
appointed a commissioner for running the boundary line 
between Virginia and the Cherokees, probably in fulfill- 
ment of stipulations of the treaty at Long Island of Holston, 
in Jul}' preceding, performed this service, the line ex- 
tending from the mouth of Big creek to the high knob on 
Cumberland Mountain, a few miles west of Cumberland 
Gap.* During the year 1778, he seems to have been 
engaged in no special public service. 

In the summer of 1779, there was a partial uprising of 
Tories in Montgomery County, where Colonel Walter 
Crockett, by his energy, succeeded in quelling the insur- 
rection before it had gained much headwa}^. The same Tory 
spirit had extended itself into Washington County — and 
even into the Watauga and Nolachuck}^ settlements ; but the 
leaders were not open in their movements — rather like 
bandits, struck their blows in the dark, under disguises and 
concealments. Colonel Campbell was very out-spoken 
against them. His gates were placarded, threatening his 
life ; and an attempt was made to take him, of a dark night, 
and in a deep tbrest, by two of these desperadoes, but they 
mistook their man — othenvise Colonel Campbell would have 
probably lost his life at their hands. 

Not long after, when he was returning from the Ebbing 
Spring meeting house, where he had been hearing a good 
Presbyterian sermon, mounted on horseback, accompanied 
by his wife, his cousin John Campbell and family. Captain 
James Dysart and wife, James Fullen, a man named Farris, 
an African negro named Thomas, and others, he discovered 
a man approaching, on horseback, who turned off into the 
woods — a suspicious circumstance. Colonel Campbell did 
not personally know him, but John Campbell, who did, told 

*MS. pension statement of Charles Bickley. 


the Colonel that it was Francis Hopkins, the Tory ban- 
dit. For a year or more Hopkins had given the County 
authorities much trouble ; they had imposed heavy fines upon 
him for his rascalities, and had placed him under heavj- 
bonds. He had been found guilty of passing counterfeit 
money — w^as ordered imprisoned at Cocke's Fort onRenfroe 
creek, till the county jail should be completed ; and when the 
new structure was ready for occupancy, it was a ricketty 
affair, and Hopkins one dark night was released from his 
confinement by the aid of sj^mpathizing Tories, who pried the 
jail door from its hinges, and carried it half a mile away. 
Thus the bandit and counterfeiter evaded further imprison- 
ment, and snapped his fingers at justice. He fled to the 
nearest British garrison — probably in Georgia — where he 
obtained a commission, with letters to the Cherokee Indians 
and the white emissaries among them, urging them to fall 
upon the frontier settlers with fagot, knife, and tomahawk. 
He was, in every sense, an infamous Tory, and a dangerous 

Upon learning the name of the stranger, Colonel Camp- 
bell instantty put spurs to his horse, and gave chase to the 
bandit; and in the course of one or two miles, reaching 
the deep ford of the Middle Foi'k of Holston,* about a mile 
above where Captain Thompson then lived, Hopkins, who 
was mounted on a fine horse, rode down a steep bluff, some 
fifteen or twenty feet, plunging into the river. Campbell, by 
this time, was close in pursuit, and not to be balked, followed 
the bandit into the water. The fearful leap threw Hopkins 
from his horse ; and, before he could recover, Campbell 
was at him. They had a long and desperate rencounter in 
river, the bandit losing his dirk. Hopkins was the strongest 
man, and came near drowning Campbell, when Fullen and 
some of the others, who had followed, came to his rehef ; 
and, with their assistance, the bandit was, after something 
of an enforced ducking, subdued and taken to the bank. 

!'This locality is now on James Byar's farm, in Washington County. 


Hopkins' reckless character was well known — a leader 
of a mountain clan of desperadoes, who had long infested 
the country', committing robberies on defenceless people 
along the thinly populated frontiers. No time was lost — there 
was no jail in the countj^ that could hold him, and it was 
dangerous to the community to suffer such a lawless char- 
acter to roam at large, threatening the lives of such men as 
William Campbell. On taking the culprit to the bank 
of the stream, they searched him, finding his commission, 
with commissions for others, and the letters to the Cherokees, 
which he had not yet delivered. The horse he rode was 
stolen but a few hours before ; and he had a new halter tied 
on behind his saddle, evidentlj' intended for another horse, 
preparatory, perhaps, for a journey, with some accomplice, 
to the Cherokee country. But the halter, like Haman's 
gallows, was put to quite a different use from what was 
designed ; for with it, Hopkins, who was insolent to Camp- 
bell, was speedily hung to the limb of a convenient sycamore 
that leaned over the river. When Colonel Campbell 
rejoined his wife, she eagerl}- inquired, "What did you do 
with him, Mr. Campbell?" "Oh, w-e hung him, Betty — 
that's all." The whole country rejoiced at this riddance 
of one of the greatest pests to society. Others of the ban- 
dit party were hunted down, and several of them killed — 
one on Clinch, and another at the lower end of Washing- 
ton County, or on the borders of the neighboring County 
of Sullivan, in now Tennessee. 

At the ensuing October session of the Virginia Legis- 
lature, an act was passed, at the instance of General 
Thomas Nelson, Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration 
of Independence, and afterwards Governor of the State, to 
fulljr meet the case — though it would seem to have hardly 
been necessary. The act states, that while the measures 
for the suppression of "open insurrection and conspiracy" 
may not have been " strictly warranted by law, it was 
justifiable from the immediate urgency and imminence 


of the danger" — hence "that WilHam Campbell, Walter 
Crockett, and other liege subjects of the Commonwealth, 
aided by detachments of the militia and volunteers from 
the County of Washington and other parts of the frontiers, 
did by timely and effectual exerdon, suppress and defeat 
such conspiracy," and they were declared fully exonerated 
and indemnified for the act.* 

In April, 1780, Colonel Campbell was promoted to the 
full rank of Colonel, in place of Evan Shelby. Sr., whose 
residence, it was now determined, was in North Carolina. 
He served a term in the House of Delegates from early in 
May, until the twentieth of June, when' he obtained leave of 
absence for the remainder of the session, to engage in an 
expedition against the Chickamauga towns. Governor Jef- 
ferson and his council authorizing him to embody two hun- 
dred and fifty militia from Washington and Montgomery 
counties, and unite with a conjunctive force from the Caro- 

But soon after his return home, he found a dangerous 
enemy in the midst of the white settlements. Two hundred 
Tories of the New river region, within what is now Graysc5n 
County, Virginia, and Ashe County, North Carolina, had 
risen in arms, with some British officers aiding them, with a 
view of seizing the Lead Mines, near the present Wytheville ; 
Avhen Colonel Campbell, by order of Colonel Preston, took 
the field in August at the head of one hundred and forty or 
fifty men, and scoured that wild, mountainous country ; and 
at a place known as the Big Gl.ides, or Round Meadows, 
approaching a large party of Tories, the latter under cover 
of a thick fog, fled, dispersing in every direction, and hiding 
themselves in the mountains, losing only one of their num- 

■'= Statement of Colonel Samuel Newell, December 9, 1833, in The Land ]Ve Love, May 
1867 ; MS. Correspondence of Governor D. Campbell and John B. Dysart; conversations 
with Colonel Patrick H. Fontaine, a grandson of Patrick Henry, and General Thomas 
Love ; Henning's Statutes of Virginia, x, 195. In Atkinso-i's Casket, for September, 1833, 
is an interesting story founded on the hanging of Hopkins, having, however, but little 
resemblance to the real facts in the case. 

^ Journal of House of Delegates. 1780; Gibbes' Doc. History, 1776-82, p. 135. 


ber in their flight. Colonel Cleveland on a similar service, 
had captured Zachariah Goss, one of Plundering Sam 
Brown's gang of murderers, horse-thieves, and robbers, 
who was tried and immediately hung at Peach Bottom, on 
New River, in the presence of Cleveland's and Camp- 
bell's parties ; while two other villains were very well 
whipped. Colonel Campbell then marched to the old 
Moravian town of Bethabara, in North Carolina, where 
he made head-quarters for some time, sending out de- 
tachments in quest of Tory bands — one penetrating into 
Guilford Countjr, surprised and dispersed two companies of 
Tories at night, and captured Captain Nathan Read, one of 
their leaders, and seventeen others — Captain Eli Branson, 
another of their leaders, narrowly escaping. Read was 
tried. Colonels Cleveland and Martin Armstrong, and 
Major Lewis sitting upon the court-martial, was found guilty 
of crimes and misdemeanors, and condemned to be hung — 
with the alternative presented him of joining the patriots, 
and serving faithfully to the end of the war, which he de- 
clined, meeting his death heroically. Another party of 
Tories was dispersed above the Shallow Ford of Yadkin.* 
Returning from this expedition. Colonel Campbell led 
four hundred brave riflemen from Washington County 
across the Alleghanies to meet Ferguson's Rangers and the 
united Tories of the Carolinas. Their utter discomfiture 
has been fully related ; and too much praise cannot well be 
accorded to "the hero of King's Mountain" for his gallant 
bearing during the campaign generally, and especially for 
his heroic conduct in the batde. It is a matter of regret, 
that such patriots as Shelby and Sevier should have been 
deceived into the belief that the chivalric Campbell shirked 
from the dangers of the conflict, mistaking, as they did, 
the Colonel's servant in the distance for the Colonel him- 

« Colonel Willinm Campbell's MSS ; statement of John Spelts, who was out in this ser- 
Tice; MS. Pension statements of Colonel Robert Love and James Keys, of Campbell's men; 
Gibbes' Doc, History^ 1776-82, p. 137, 


self; when well-nigh forty survivors of the battle, including 
some of Campbell's worthiest officers, and men of Sliel- 
by's, Sevier's, and Cleveland's regiments as well, testitying, 
of their own knowledge, to his personal share in the action, 
and specifying his presence in every part of the hotly-con- 
tested engagement, from the beginning to the final surren- 
der of the enem3r at discretion. It is evident that such 
heroes as Shelb}^ and Sevier had quite enough to do within 
the range of their own regiments, v.ithout being- able to 
observe very much what was transpiring beyond them. 
And what Shelby honestly supposed was a vague confes- 
sion by Campbell of unaccountable conduct on his part in 
the latter part of the action, simpl}' referred to his too pre- 
cipitate oi'der to fire on the unresisting Tories when Col- 
onel Williams had been shot down after the close of the 
contest. But in such a victory, without unjustly detracting 
from Campbell's great merits and rich deservings, there is 
both honor and fame enough for £(11 his worthy compatriots 
also. * It may be proper to note, that the sword that Col- 
onel Campbell wielded at King's Mountain, and subse- 
quently at Guilford — his trusty Andrea di Fcrrara — more 
than a century old, was used by his Caledonian ancestors 
in the wars of the Pretenders, and is yet preserved by his 
Preston descendants, f 

Colonel Campbell would have been more or less than 
mortal, had he not felt a sense of satisfaction for the high 
praises showered upon him and his associates for the 
decisive triumph achieved at King^s Mountain — emanadng 
from Gates, Washington, the Legislature of Virginia, and 
the Continental Congress. The latter august body voted, 
that it entertained " a high sense of the spirited and mih- 

*Both Colonel William Martin and Elijah Callaway, who were intimately acquainted 
with Colonel Cleveland, state that he frequently spoke of Campbeirs good deportment in 
the battle; Major Lewis, of Cleveland's regiment, declared that, it not been for 
Campbell and his Virginians. Ferguson would have remained master of King's Mountain ; 
and General Lenoir, also of Cleveland's men, testified to Campbell's gallant conduct in 
the action. 

f Colonel Arthur CampbeU's Memoir; Campbell's History of Virginia, i860, p. 700. 


tary conduct of Colonel, Campbell" and his associates; 
while the Virginia House of Delegates voted its "thanks 
to Colonel Campbell," his officers and soldiers, for their 
patriotic conduct in repairing to the aid of a distressed sis- 
ter State, and after " a severe and bloody conflict," had 
achieved a decisive victory ; and that " a good horse, with 
elegant furniture, and a sword, be purchased at the public 
expense, and presented to Colonel William Campbell as a 
further testimony of the high sense the General Assem- 
bly entertain of his late important services to his country." 
To these high compliments of the Legislature, Colonel 
Campbell returned the following modest acknowledgment : 

" Gentlemen — I am infinitely happy in receiving this 
public testimony of the approbation of my country for my 
late services in South Carolina. It is a reward far above 
my expectations, and I esteem it the noblest a soldier can 
receive from a virtuous people. Through you, gentlemen, 
I wish to communicate the high sense I have of it to the 
House of Delegates. I owe, under Providence, much to 
the brave officers and soldiers who served with me ; and I 
shall take the earliest opportunity of transmitting the 
resolve of your House to them, who, I am persuaded, will 
experience all the honest heart-felt satisfaction I myself 
feel on this occasion." * 

Now hurrying to his frontier home on the Holston, he 
found that the restless Cherokees had again been at their 
bloody work, and Colonel Arthur Campbell had in Decem- 
ber, 17S0, aided by Colonel Sevier and Major Martin, led 
forth a strong force for their chastisement. Colonel Will- 
iam Campbell at once raised additional troops, and marched 
as far as the Long Island of Holston, \ to succor his kins- 
man if need be ; but it was not necessary, for the Chero- 

'■■- Journals 0/ Congress, 1780, 367; Journal of the Virginia House 0/ Delegates, 1780, 
Fall session, pp. 13, 18. The Virginia Le^rislature subsequently called a County after him, 
to perpetuate his name and memory. 

+ MS correspondence of Colonel Vv'illiam Martin, one of William Campbell's men, and 
of Governor D. Campbell ; Haywood's Tennessee^ 98. 


kees wei-e pursued in detached parties by their invaders, 
many of their warriors were killed, and their settlements 

On the thirtieth of January, 1781, General Greene wrote 
to "the famous Colonel William Campbell," reminding him 
of the glory he had already acquired, and urging him "to 
bring, without loss of time, a thousand good volunteers 
from over the mountains." Notwithstanding the Cherokees 
were still troublesome, and threatening the frontiers, the 
noted Logan, with a northern band, was committing depre- 
dations on Clinch, while others were doing mischief in 
Powell's Valley, yet Colonel Campbell raised over a hun- 
dred of his gallant riflemen, and moved forward on Feb- 
ruary twentj'-fifth,* others joining him on the way, until 
he brought General Greene, about the second of March, a 
re-inforcement of over four hundred mountaineers, f Lord 
Cornwallis had imbibed a personal resentment towards 
Colonel Campbell, as the commander at King's Mountain, 
threatening that should he fall into his hands, he would 
have him instantly put to death for his rigor against the 
Tories — evidently designing to hold him personally respon- 
sible for the execution of the Tory leaders at Bickerstaff's. 
This, instead of intimidating, had the contrary effect ; and 
Campbell, in turn, resolved, if the fortunes of war should 
place Cornwallis in his power, he should meet the fate 
of Ferguson. % 

Could anything have served to give additional spirit to 
Colonel Campbell, and nerve him to almost superhuman 
exertions, it was just such a dastardly threat as that uttered 
by Lord Cornwallis. Campbell and his men were soon 
called into action. Taking advantage of a thick fog. Lord 
Cornwallis sent forward a strong force to beat up the quar- 
ters of Greene's advance parties — or, as Greene supposed, 

'^ Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 548. 555. 

f Calendar 0/ Virginia State Papers, 542 ; Johnson's Greene, \, 438. 

\ Colonel Arthur Campbell's memoir of General William Campbell. 

392 KIXG ' S A/0 UNTAIN 

either to intercept his stores, or cut off' the Light Infantry, 
including tlie riflemen, from the main body. Tliese advance 
columns met at Wlritzell's Mills, on Reedy creek, some 
seven miles from Greene's camp, where Colonel Otho H. 
Williams, with Campbell's and Preston's riflemen, and 
Washington's and Lee's corps, formed on the southern 
bank of the stream, in front of the ford, and some two 
hundred yards below the mill. The main object was to 
protect the mill as long as possible, and enable Greene's 
provision wagons to load with flour and meal, and get off" 
with the needed supply, which thev barely effected. As 
the British, with their short Yager riflemen in front, ap- 
proached, they fired in the distance ; and when within 
eighty yards, descending towards the creek, the American 
riflemen opened on them with deadly effect, one of the 
officers of the enemy, when shot, bounding up several feet, 
fell dead ; a second discharge on the advancing foe, when 
only some forty-five yards off', was also ver}^ destructive. 
The enemy had opened their field pieces, but, like the fire 
of their small arms, was too high, and only took effect 
among the limbs of the trees. As the atmosphere was 
heavy, the powder smoke obstructed the enemj^'s view ; 
while the Americans, below them, had abetter opportunity. 
The fighting was chiefly done by the riflemen, and Lee's 
Legion, while covered by the regulars; and "Colonel 
Campbell," says John Craig, one of his riffemen, "acted 
with his usual courage.'' 

Having accomplished the object they had in view — the 
security of the flour and meal, — the Americans retired 
over the ford, which was some three feet deep, with a rapid 
current, over a slippery, rocky bottom, with a steep brushy 
bank on the northern shore to ascend. While effecting this 
passage, the gallant Major Joseph Cloyd, of Preston's riffe- 
men, observed his old commander on foot, who had been 
unhorsed in the conflict, and dismounting, aided Colonel 
Preston, who was now advanced in years and quite fleshy, 
into the saddle, when both escaped.* "The enemy," 

-MS. notes of conversations with Thomas Hickman, of Davidson County, Ten- 


said General Greene, "were handsomely opposed, and suf- 
fered considerably. " 

After no little manoeuvring, the battle of Guilford took 
place on the fifteenth of March. It was brought on by a 
sharp action, in the morning, by the advance, consist- 
ing of Lee's Legion, and a portion of Campbell's riflemen — 
in which Lee was supposed to have inflicted a loss of fifty 
on the part of Tarleton ; while the Light Infantry of the 
Guards \vere so hard pressed by the riflemen, losing a hun- 
dred of their number, that a portion of Tarleton's cavalry 
went to their relief. In the main battle that soon followed, 
Lee's Legion and Campbell's riflemen formed the corps of 
observation on the left flank — the riflemen occupying a 
woodland position. During the obstinate contest, Camp- 
bell's corps fought with the heroic bravery characteristic of 
their noble leader, and of their own unrivalled reputation. 
When the enemy charged the Maryland Line, Campbell 
with his riflemen made a spirited attack on the regiment 
of Boze, on the British right wing, and drove it back ; and 
when the riflemen, in tiu'n, were charged with the bayonet, 
having none to repel them, they were obliged for the 
moment to retire, still loading and firing, however, on 
their pursuers, and thus, whether charging or retiring, 
kept up a destnictive fire on these veteran German sub- 
sidiaries. So severely did Campbell's riflemen handle 
his right wing, that Lord Cornwallis was obliged to order 
Tarleton to extricate it, and bring it ofl". By this time Lee 
had retired with his cavalry, without apprising Campbell of 
his movement; and the result was, that the riflemen were 
swept from the field.* 

nessee, and Major Herndon Haralson, of Brownsville, Tennessee, in 1844, and Benjamin 
Starritt, all participants in the action ; Tarleton's Campaigns, 135 ; Stedman, ii, 336 ; Lees 
Memoirs, revised ed., 265-67; Greene, in Letter to Washington, iii, 260; Johnson's Greene, 
i, 462-63: Greene's Greene, iii, 188. 

* MS. Notes of conversations with Benjamin Starritt, of Lee's Legion; Tarleton's 
Campaigns, 270-71, 275-76; Stedman. with MS marginal notes by Captain J. R. Whitford, 
". 337» 343: Lee's Memoirs, new ed., 276-83; Johnson Greene, ii. 6; Lossing's Field Book, 
ii, 402. 403 : Bancroft, -y, 476-79 ; Dawson's Battles, ii, 665-67. MS. Letter of Hon. W. C. 
Preston, to the author, July loth, 1840. 


Lee commended Colonel Campbell for the bravery dis- 
played in the action b}' his battalion ; and Greene assured 
him, that his "taithful services" claimed his General's 
warmest thanks, and his "entire approbation of his con- 
duct " — adding : " Sensible of )'our merit, I feel a pleasure 
in doing justice to it." Displeased with the treatment shown 
to himself and riflemen — who were the first in the engage- 
ment, and the last in the field — Campbell retired in disgust 
from the service. At his home on the Holston, he an- 
nounced himself, on the thirty-first of March, as a candi- 
date for the House of Delegates, saying: "The resignation 
of my militarj' commission, which I could not longer hold 
with honor, after the treatment I have received, puts it out 
of my power to serve m}- country as an officer. "* Camp- 
bell and his men felt deeply aggrieved — feeling that Lee 
had abandoned them without notice, and left them to main- 
tain the unequal contest unprotected by cavalry, when 
Tarleton directed his dragoons against them. 

" You have no doubt observed," wrote General William 
R. Davie, "that Campbell's regiment of riflemen acted 
with Lee on the left flank of the army. After the main 
body of the army had been pushed off the field, these 
troops remained engaged with the Yagers of the regiment 
of Boze, near the Court House, some of them covered by 
houses, others by a skirt of thick wood. In this situation, 
they were charged by the British cavalry, and some of 
them were cut down. Lee's cavalry were drawn up on the 
edge of the open ground, above the Court House, about 
two hundred yards off, and, as Colonel Campbell asserted, 
moved as this charge was made on his riflemen. On the 
day after the action, Campbell was extremely indignant at 
this movement, and spoke freely of Lee's conduct. Lee 
was, however, sent oft' the same da}-, to watch the enemy's 
movements, and Campbell's regiment were soon dis- 
charged." f 

*MS. Letter of Colonel Campbell to Colonel Daniel Smith, on Clinch. 
"i-Johnson's Greene^ ii, 16-17, 20, 


"Lee's abandonment of Campbell's riflemen," said the 
late William C. Preston, " at twilight, and without giving 
notice of his withdrawal, was long regarded b}' the survi- 
vors with the most bitter feelings, which were subsequently 
revived by the manner in which he sunk their services and 
suflerings in his published account of the battle."* This, 
at least, is expressive of the sentiments of Campbell and 
his men ; and, at this late day, it is difficult to determine 
whether Lee was excusable, or culpable, for the course he 
pursued. But well-merited compliments and soothing 
words, on the part of General Greene, did not change 
Colonel Campbell's determination to withdraw from the 
service. He accordingly left camp on the morning of the 
twentieth ; and returning home resigned his commission in 
the militia. 

Colonel Campbell, as the oldest serving Jusdce in the 
County Court, became entitled to a term of the office of 
Sheriff", but declined the position. He was chosen to rep- 
resent Washington County in the House of Delegates. 
The General Assembly convened at Richmond early in 
May of this year ; but owing to the approach of the enemy, 
they adjourned to meet at Charlottesville on the twent}'- 
fourth of that month ; and, on June the fourth, thejr were 
compelled hurriedly to adjourn to Staunton to escape cap- 
ture by Tarleton. During the session, disturbed as it was, 
much important public business was transacted. Colonel 
Campbell was placed on several of the leading committees, 
associated with Patrick Henry and other prominent 
patriots — on privileges and elections, the establishment of 
martial law, and amendatory of the militia act. General 
Morgan was again called into service by the Legislature ; 
and a few days later, on the fourteenth of June, the House 
of Delegates chose Colonel Campbell a Brigadier General 
of the militia, to serve imder Marquis De La Fayette, then 
commanding in Virginia, which was concurred in by the 

* MS. letter to the author, July loth, 1840. 


Senate the following day. On the sixteenth, General 
Campbell obtained leave of absence for the remainder of 
the session, and at once repaired to La Fayette's camp for 
service. He became a favorite of that gallant nobleman, 
who assigned him to the command of a brigade of light 
infantry and riflemen. * 

While General Campbell was temporariljr absent, and 
his corps was encamped at some point in Cumberland 
County, a Parson McCrea, of the old established church, 
who had drawn his salary in tobacco for many a year, 
visited the camp, and plied his best arguments to discourage 
the men, representing that the great strength of Cornwallis' 
army would enable them to slaughter the feeble American 
force like so many beeves. General Campbell returning, 
and hearing of this insolent visit, sent a detail of men to 
apprehend the inter-meddling Parson ; and severely repri- 
manded him for his unpatriotic conduct, saying his age 
alone excused him from corporal punishment ; " but we 
will show you," added the General, "how we intend to 
serve Cornwallis." Pie then ordered the Torjr clergyman 
to prostrate himself flat on his belly across the road, when 
every soldier stepped over him on their march. We are 
afraid the good man left in too ill a humor to properly pray 
for his enemies. 

From the published histories, and the gazettes of that 
day, it would not appear that General Campbell had any 
share in the battle of Jamestown Ford, fought on the sixth 
of July, mainly by Wayne's brigade ; yet a survivor of 
La Fayette's army stated that Campbell participated in the 
attack, and fell back fighting as he retired. f His riflemen, 
perhaps, formed the reserve of Wa3'ne's attacking party; 
for some of his riflemen were wounded, and Colonel John 
Boyer, of his rifle corps, from Rockbridge County, was 

* Journals of the Virginia Legislature. 1781 ; Colonel Arthur Campbell's memoir, 
t MS. notes of conversations with Reverend James Haynes, near Paris, Tenn., in 1844, 
then eighty-four years of age. 


made a prisoner b}- the enemy. Though CornwaUis 
affected the most haughty contempt for ''the boy" La- 
Fayette, he must have had some respect for Wayne, the 
hero of Stony Point, for Campbell, who had taken a little 
detached army from him at King's Mountain, and for 
Morgan, who had handled his detachment under Tarleton 
so roughly at the Cowpens. 

While CornwaUis was encamped at Williamsburg, and 
La Fayette six miles distant on the road leading to Rich- 
mond, General Campbell, in command of the light troops, 
usually kept a picket guard of a dozen or fifteen of his 
mounted men at the Three Burnt Chimneys, about midway 
between the hostile camps. For several successive morn- 
ings the enemy would send out a superior bod}^ of horsemen, 
and drive in the American picket. Campbell determined to 
profit by this experience. A short distance in the rear 
of the Burnt Chimneys was a fine grove b}' the road-side, 
surrounding a church. In this grove Campbell posted a 
large detachment of mounted riflemen, himself at their 
head ; and placed the customary picket at the Burnt Chim- 
neys, with directions to retire on the approach of the 
expected British cavalry early in the morning. The 
enemy, as usual, hotly pursued the fleeing Americans 
under whip and spur, until they reached the grove, when an 
unexpected volley of rifle balls unhorsed a goodly number 
of the astonished Britons — killing some twenty or more of 
their cavalry men, and thirt}^ or forty of their horses. The 
survivors fled back in dismay, and the picket at the Burnt 
Chimneys was no more annoj^ed. * 

But General Campbell's services were destined to a 
sudden termination. Taken with a complaint in his breast, 
he was conveyed to the residence of Colonel John Sj-me, his 
wife's half brother, at Rocky Mills, in Hanover County, 
where, after a few days' illness, he expired, August the 

*MS. notes of convers;uions, in January, 1844, with James Givens, one of Campbell's 
men, then in his eightieth year. 


twenty-second, 1781, in his thirty-sixth year. When 
La Faj-ette received intelligence of the death of his friend, 
he issued a General Order announcing the sad event, char- 
acterizing General Campbell as "an officer whose services 
must have endeared him to every citizen, and in particular 
to every American soldier. The glory which General 
Campbell has acquired in the affairs of King's Mountain 
and Guilford Court House, will do his memory everlasting 
honor, and insure him a high rank among the defenders 
of liberty in the American cause;" General La Fayette 
recrettino- that the funeral was so ?reat a distance from the 
arm}^ as to deprive him and his officers the privilege of 
paying to General Campbell the honors due to his rank, 
and " particularlj.' to his merit," and deputing four field 
officers to repair to Rocky Mills and, in behalf of the army, 
pay him their last tribute of respect. 

Here his remains reposed until 1823, when his relatives 
had them removed to his old Aspenvale homestead on the 
Holston, in now Smyth County, beside his mother, little son, 
and other relatives, and where a neat monument was ei'ect- 
ed to his memory. His widow, a son, and a daughter 
survived him — the widow subsequently uniting in marriage 
with General William Russell ; the son died young ; the 
daughter, Sarah, became the wife of General Francis Pres- 
ton, and mother of Hon. William C. Preston, General 
John S. Preston, and Colonel Thomas L. Preston. Gen- 
eral Campbell's widow died in November, 1825, aged about 
eighty ; and his daughter, Mrs. Preston, died at Abingdon, 
Virginia, July twenty-third, 1846, at the age of nearly 
seventy years. 

There was something akin to rivalry between Colonel 
Arthur Campbell and his brother-in-law, William Camp- 
bell, whose sister Margaret he had married. She was a 
woman of excellent mind, and of uncommon beauty and 
sprightliness ; and withal she possessed no little ambition, 
which she endeavored to turn to good account in her 


husband's behalf. This young wife encouraged him in all 
his plans by whicli he might acquire distinction as a public 
man. Her whole mind seemed completely absorbed in 
this one great object of her life, to whicli every other must 
bend ; no privation, however great, annoyed her in the 
smallest degree, if she believed it would contribute to the ac- 
quirement of either militaiy or civil reputation for her hus- 
band. Her extreme solicitude and promptings to push him 
up the ladder of fame, caused him sometimes to make false 
steps, and involved him in unnecessaiy altercations with 
his brother-in-law and others. Except these ambitious ef- 
forts, and they were always promoted in a manner to grat- 
ify her husband, she was among the most exemplary of 
women, never having a thought in opposition to his upon 
any subject, and believing him to be the greatest man in 
the country, not excepting her brother, of whose abilities 
she entertained a very exalted opinion.* 

Colonel Arthur Campbell was some three years the 
senior of William Campbell ; this fact, and his having been 
in youth a prisoner with the Indians, had given him the 
precedence in martial affairs. His military talents, how- 
ever, were not of the first order, while William Campbell 
thought that the experience he had gained on the Point 
Pleasant campaign, and during his year's service in the 
Williamsburg region, in 1775-76, fairly entitled him to lead 
his brother-in-law, who would not acquiesce in this view, 
and jealousies were the consequence, and sometimes open 
ruptures. There appears to have been a sort of quasi un- 
derstanding between them, that they should take turns in 
commanding the Washington foi'ce on military expeditions 
against the enemy. While Colonel William Campbell led 
the troops against the Tories up New river, the men com- 
posing the command were only in part from Washington 
County ; and, hence he was permitted to go on the King's 
Mountain campaign, heartily seconded in his eflbrts by 

*MS. letter of Gov David Campbell to the author, Dec. 12, 18 


Colonel Arthur Campbell. The latter led the expedition 
in December following against the Cherokees ; and when, 
shortly after, \\'illiam Campbell recei\-ed the urgent in- 
vitation from General Greene to join him with a band of 
riflemen. Colonel Arthur Campbell interposed objections, 
nominally on the ground of danger trom the Indians, but 
probably prompted in fact somewhat by his jealousy of his 
bi-other-in-law"s growing fame as a leader in expeditions 
against the enemy. 

General Campbell had a very imposing personal ap- 
pearance — the beau ideal of a military chieftain with those 
who served under him, He was about six feet, two inches 
high, possessing a large, muscular, well-proportioned frame 
— rather raw-boned ; with an iron constitution, capable of al- 
most incredible endurance — and he was as straight as an In- 
dian. Flis complexion was ruddy, with light colored or red- 
dish hair, and bright blue e3^es. His countenance presented 
a serious — na}-, stern appearance ; and when not excited ex- 
pressive of great benevolence ; but when his ire was stirred, 
he exhibited the fury of an Achilles. On such occasions he 
would commit violent and indiscreet acts ; he was, however, 
easily calmed, particularly when approached by those in 
whom he reposed confidence — to such he would yield his 
opinions without the slightest opposition. In conversation 
he was reserved and thoughtful ; in his written communica- 
tions, expressive and elegant. He was bland in his man- 
ners, and courteous to all with whom he had intercourse, 
whether high or low, rich or poor. At preaching in the 
country, it was his constant custom to look around after ser- 
mon was ended, and assist all the women of the neighbor- 
hood, especially the more aged, who were not attended, 
on their horses. 

Of Scottish descent, he inherited the principles and 
predilections of his persecuted Presb3'terian ancestors 
of that northern land. His religious zeal — certainly in 
theorj^ — and his devotion to liberty, were alike deep, fer- 


vent, and exclusive. In his domestic and social relations, 
he was the most amiable of men. He would send his ser- 
vants to aid a poor neighbor, while he would himself plow 
through the heat of the day in his fields, giving his spare 
moments to his Bible and his God, endeavoring scrupu- 
lously to live up to the golden rule in all his dealings with 
his fellow men. But he set his face like a flint against the 
enemies of his country and of freedom, proving himself 
almost as inflexible as a Claverhouse or a Cumberland 
toward those who betrayed or deserted the holy cause for 
which he contended, and for which he died. 

But it was as a military genius that he shone preeminent. 
He had the ability to form able plans — confidence in him- 
self, and indefatigable perseverance to execute them ; and 
the rare capacity to inspire all under his command with his 
own confidence and indomitable courage. Had he acted 
on as conspicuous a stage as Warren or Montgomerjr, his 
name and fame would have been as illustrious as theirs. 
With inferior numbers of undisciplined volunteers, em- 
bodied with great celerity, led forth, with scanty supplies, 
nearly two hundred miles over rugged mountains, he 
totally defeated Ferguson, one of the most experienced and 
enterprising of the Bridsh partisan leaders — gaining, as he 
expressed it, "victory to a wish." At Guilford he fully 
sustained his high reputation, and had the North Carolina 
milida behaved with the firmness and courage equal to his 
riflemen, the army of Cornwallis would not have been 
crippled only, but would, in all probability, have met with 
irretrievable disaster. 

General Campbell never balanced between militar}- duty 
and prudential maxims. Himself a hater of vice and 
treason in every form, he was bj^ some deemed too severe 
in punishing the deviations of others — yet his acts, in his 
own estimation, were the result of the purest patriotic 
impulses. Wherever the story of King's Mountain and 
Guilford is read, and the services of their heroes fully 


appreciated, it will be found that William Campbell has 
" purpled o'er his name with deathless glory." 

Of such of General Campbell's officers as served with 
him at King's Mountain, and concerning whom facts have 
been obtained, brief notices will be made. Major William 
Edmondson — or Edmiston, as frequently written in early 
days — the second in command of the Virginia regiment in 
the battle, was descended from Irish ancestry, and born in 
Cecil County, Maryland, in 1734. While he was yet 
young, his father removed to what is now Rockbridge 
County, Virginia, where he grew to years of manhood, 
receiving a limited education. He early engaged in the 
old French and Indian war. 

Learning of Colonel Byrd's expedition down the Hol- 
ston, destined against the Cherokees, in 1760, William 
Edmondson, and his brother Samuel, concluded to enlist, 
so as to give them an opportunity to examine the lands 
of the Holston country with a view to future settlement. 
While on this service, William Edmondson was guilty 
of the high crime of addressing an officer without taking 
off his hat, as was required of all soldiers, for which he 
was severely rebuked, and threatened with punishment. 
Reaching his comrades in great wrath, Edmondson loaded 
his rifle, and swore he would shoot the officer who had so 
grossly insulted him ; and it was with great difficulty, that 
his brother dissuaded him from it. One of the Virginia 
officers, who knew Edmondson, wrote to Governor Fau- 
quier, that there was a high spirited soldier in his corps, 
who, unless commissioned, was likely to get into trouble. \ 
On the first of August, in that year, the Governor sent 

=''The5e salient points in the character of General Campbell are drawn from Colonel 
Arthur Campbell's memoir ; Governor D. Campbell's MS. correspondence ; and the recol- 
lections of Colonel Walter Lewis, who had served under him, in Atkinson' s Casket, Sep- 
tember, 1833, 387. 

•f-MS. letter of Hon. Benjamin Estill, August 21st, 1845. 


him an Ensign's commission to serve on tliat expedition. 
But wlien Byrd got pretty well down the Valley, he took to 
camp, but made no further progress during that nor the 
following year. In 1763, Governor Fauquier sent Edmond- 
son a commission of Lieutenant in the militia. 

Having married a Miss Montgomerjr, he removed, after 
the war, to the New river frontiers, in now Grayson County ; 
and subsequently to what now constitutes Washington Coun- 
ty, settHng on a tract of land received for his military ser- 
vices. In 1774 hs was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 
mihtia of Fincastle County, served on the frontiers of 
Chnch and Sandy, and probably in Christian's regiment on 
the expedition to Point Pleasant and the Scioto : and, in 
1776, he was made a Captain, and served on the campaign 
against the Cherokees in the fall of that year. In 1777, he 
was appointed a Justice, and failed only a few votes of an 
election to the Plouse of Delegates. He was, this year, 
selected by the Legislature one of the commissioners for 
taking depositions against the claim of Henderson and 
Company to the Kentucky countrj^. During 1777, he was 
in service when the treaty was held at Long Island of Hol- 
ston, and was much engaged, in 1778, in guarding the 
frontiers. Early in 1779, he commanded a company on 
Colonel Evan Shelb3''s Chickamauga expedition ; and early 
in 1780, he was promoted to Major of the Washington regi- 
ment, serving on the expedition against the Tories on New 
river, and then on the King's Mountain campaign. At the 
close of the j^ear he joined Colonel William Campbell's 
force, marching to the Long Island of Holston. He was 
advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1781, and in 1783 to a 
full Colonel. During 1781 and- 1782, he was much in ser- 
vice in protecting the frontiers. 

By two marriages— the second to a Miss Kenned}' — he 
had fifteen children, one son, born soon after the death of 
his revered commander, he named General William Camf- 
bell Ed^nondson. He lived to a good old age, dying July 


thirtieth, 1822, in his eighty-ninth year. He was six feet, 
two inches high, possessed a vigorous mind ; he wa^ bold, 
manly, open-hearted, and generous. His attachments 
were strong, and his hatreds bitter. He served at one time 
as Sheriff of the County, and for many years presided, 
with great dignity, over the County Court. Judge Estill, 
who knew him well, declared, that "few more gallant, 
useful, and honorable men than Colonel Edmondson ever 
lived in any country." 

James Dj'sart was born in Donegal Count}^, Ireland ; 
his parents dying in his infancy, he was raised by his grand- 
father, who gave him a plain education. At the age of 
seventeen he sailed for the New World to seek his fortune, 
landing, m 1761, at Philadelphia, from which he gradually 
worked his way to the south-west, until he reached the Hol- 
ston Valley. In 1770, he joined James Knox and others, 
in exploring Tennessee and Kentucky, who are known in 
history as the Long Hunters. In 1775, he married Nancy 
Beattie, sister of Captain David Beattie, and settled on the 
Little Holston. During the whole Revolutionary war he 
was active in frontier service, heading his company ; and 
at King's Mountain he was badly wounded in the left hand, 
which crippled him for life. In 1781 he was made a Major, 
and subsequently a Colonel ; and once represented Wash- 
ington County in the Virginia Legislature. In his old age, 
broken up by surety debts, he removed to Rockcasde 
County, Kentuck}', with his wife, three sons, and three 
daughters ; where he died, May twenty-sixth, 1818, at the 
age of seventy-four years. He was fond of reading, and 
had quite a library of books. When it was once suggested 
to him that he must be lonesome at his frontier home — "I 
am never lonesome," he replied, " when I have a good 
book in my hand." He always spoke highly of Colonel 
William Campbell as a brave man and able commander. 
In 1806, he was placed on the invalid pension list, drawing 
a hundred and twenty dollars a year. 


Another of Campbell's officers was Captain David Beat- 
tie, son of John Beattie, born on Carr's creek, in now 
Rockbridge County, Virginia, about 1752; and removed 
with his parents to what is now Washington County, in 
1772, settling at the present locality of the Glade Spring 
Depot. He married Miss Mary Beattie, and raised four 
sons and a daughter. The Beattie connection forted 
against the Indians where the Glade Spring church is now 
situated. Captain Beattie was much engaged in frontier 
service, and led his company at King's Mountain — his 
brothers John and William were also along. John Beattie, 
an Ensign, was killed in the battle, leaving no family. 
Captain Beattie died in the spring of 1814. He was a man 
of much energy of character. His brother, William Beat- 
tie, survived till April fourth, i860, at the venerable age 
of one hundred years — the last of Campbell's King's 
Mountain men. 

Captain Andrew Colvill, an early settler in the Holston 
Valley, took an active part in the defence of the country. 
He was, as early as 1776, commanding at Fort Black, and 
the two following years he was ranging the frontiers, or 
stationed at Moore's and Cowan's Forts, and distinguished 
himself at King's Mountain. He died in the autumn 

of 1797. 

Few of the Holston pioneers were more serviceable 
than Robert Craig. He commanded a company on Chris- 
tian's Cherokee campaign in the fall of 1776; was much 
engaged in the defence of the frontiers, and at King's 
Mountain, where he fought bravely, losing his Lieutenant, 
Wilham Blackburn, and his Ensign, Nathaniel Dryden. 
He survived the war. 

Of Captain William Edmondson's career, who distin- 
guished himself and lost his life at King's Mountain, we 
have no further particulars ; nor of Captain William Neal, 
who commanded the footmen in the rear, save that he rose 
from the rank of ensign in 1777, and survived the war. 


Reece Bowen was born in Maryland about 1742. He 
first emigrated to what is now Rockbridge County, Vir- 
ginia, and, in 1769, to tlie waters of Clinch, in what is now 
Tazewell County. He shared in the battle of Point Pleas- 
ant ; went to the relief of the Kentucky stations in 1778; 
and on the King's Mountain campaign, he was Lieu- 
tenant of his brother, Wilham Bowen's company. His 
brother being ill of fever, Reece Bowen succeeded to the 
command of the company. His heroic death has been 
already related ; he is said to have been shot by a Tory 
boy, behind a baggage wagon, near the close of the 
engagement, when Campbell's men were driving the 
enemy toward the north-eastern end of the mountain. 
He was remarkable for his herculean strength and great 
activity. He left a famity — his son, Colonel Plenry Bowen, 
lived in Tazewell County to a good old age. 

Thomas McCoUoch had long been prominent among 
the border men of Holston. Though only a Lieutenant, 
he commanded a company at King's Mountain, and 
was mortally wounded in the battle. He died while the 
army was at Walker's, on their return march, the twelfth 
of October, and was buried in Little Britain grave-yard. 
On the rude stone at his grave is this inscription : " Here 
lies the body of Lieutenant Thomas McCoUoch, belonging 
to Colonel Campbell's Virginia regiment, who lost his life 
in, and for the honorable, just, and righteous cause of 
liberty, in defeating Colonel Ferguson's infamous company 
of banditti, at King's Mountain, October seventh, 1780." 

William Russell, Jr., who, though only a Lieutenant, 
commanded Captain Neal's company at King's Mountain, 
was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1758. He was 
chiefly raised on the south-western frontier of that State ; 
and, in 1774, he served on an expedition, in Powell's Val- 
ley, under Daniel Boone, and was repeatedly in service 
thereafter ; acting as Adjutant to Colonel Campbell at 
King's Mountain, Whitzell's Mill, and Guilford. He 


afterwards removed to Kentucky, serving from 1791 to 
1794, under Scott, Wilkinson, and Wayne, on their several 
expeditions against the Indians; and again, in north-west- 
ern campaigns during the war of 18 12-15, having been 
appointed to the command of a regiment in the regular 
army in 1808. He rendered much service in civil life, 
representing Fayette County, in the Virginia Legislature in 
1789, and m the Kentucky Legislature thirteen sessions. 
He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1824 ; 
and died July third, 1825, about sixty-seven years of age. 

The two Robert Edmondsons — of whom the elder was 
killed, and the younger wounded, at King's Mountain — 
were of Irish descent, and near kinsmen. Both were in 
the battle of the Long Island Flats of Holston, July twen- 
tieth, 1776, when some of the men retreated — young Robert 
among them. The elder Robert Edmondson interposed, and 
brought some of them into line, his young kinsman of the 
number. The elder Edmondson chided the younger for 
having used profane language during the engagement, for 
which he was bound to report him to his father. The 
young man retorted — "You, too, did the very same thing 
when the men were on the flight." This accusation 
shocked the good man, who was a strong Presbyterian, and 
said this charge would be an additional matter to report to 
the young man's father; whereupon a by-stander mildly 
said, " It's too true — I heard you." The old soldier, who 
had unconsciously used rough language under high excite- 
ment, now held his peace. He was a good soldier, and 
killed two or three Indians at the Island Flat battle ; he 
served on Christian's Cherokee expedition in the fall of 
1776; was engaged in frontier defense as a Lieutenant in 
1777-8, and on Evan Shelby's Chickamauga expedition 
in 1779. 

At King's Mountain, the younger Edmondson was 
Lieutenant of Beattie's company. He subsequently set- 
tled at the Irish station, near Haysboro, seven or eight 


miles above Nashville, on the Cumberland. In the fall of 
1787, in a scrape with the Indians, at Neely's Bend, he 
was badly wounded in the arm ; and it was eight years 
after, when an ounce ball was extracted from the arm, 
before he recovered. He died in 1816, at the age of sixty- 
three. Captain Andrew J. Edmondson, who served under 
General Jackson in the Creek w^ar, and at New Orleans, 
was his son. 

Samuel Newell was born in Frederick County, Vir- 
ginia, November fourth, 1754, and his parents early settled 
on the Holston. Heengaced in the service against Tories 
in April, 1776, and in the summer following shared in the 
battle of Long Island Flats of Holston ; and the same year 
was appointed a Sergeant in Captain Colvill's company, and 
a Lieutenant in 1777 — serving several years on the fron- 
tiers. In 1780, he took part in the expedition against the 
Tories on New river, and then at King's Mountain, in Col- 
vill's company, where he was badly wounded, from which 
he never full}' recovered. In December of the same year, 
he went on Colonel Arthur Campbell's Cherokee expedi- 
tion ; and in 1781, was appointed a Captain. He was 
much engaged in the protection of the Kentucky road and 
Powell's Valley, and had several skirmishes with the In- 
dians — twice, in 1782, overtaking war parties, in one of 
which he and his men surrounded an Indian camp, and 
his gun alone went off, the others failed, from becoming wet ; 
but his single fire killed one Indian and mortally wounded 
another. He earh' removed to French Broad river, in 
Tennessee, where he figured among the promoters of the 
Franklin Government, was a representative, in 1785, of 
Sevier Count}^ in the Legislature, and also a member of 
the Convention that formed the Franklin Constitution at 
the close of that year ; was subsequently a Justice and a 
Colonel of militia. In 1797, he removed to what is now 
Pulaski County, Kentucky, where he was long presiding 
Justice of the County Court ; and about 1838 he removed to 


Montgomciy County, Indiana, where he died September 
twenty-first, 1841, at the age of nearly eighty-seven years. 
Fie was six feet, one inch in height, of fine presence, and 
superior abilities. He left numerous descendants. In 1812 
he was placed on the invalid pension list, drawing, at first, 
ninety-six, and subsequently increased to one hundred and 
eight dollars a year, and still later to two hundred and 
thirty-one dollars and ninety-three cents. 

Andrew Kincannon, a native of the Valley of Virginia, 
was born October twenty-seventh, 1744. He early settled 
in the Holston country. He was a blacksmith and gunsmith 
by trade, and claimed to have made the first horse-shoe in 
Kentucky, probably in 1775. In February, 1777, he was 
acting as armorer to the troops stationed at Long Island of 
Holston ; and that year he was appointed an Ensign, and 
then a Lieutenant in Washington County, and stationed 
at the Stone Mill on Deer Creek. At King's Moun- 
tain, he succeeded to the command of his company, 
when Captain Dysart was wounded, and was chosen 
Captain in 1782. A few years after the w-ar, he settled on 
Tom's Creek, in Surry County, North Carolina, where he 
had a fine farm and iron works. He married Catherine 
McDonald ; they raised nine children, and left many de- 
scendants. He was tall and muscular, of great integrity, 
and high character. He died in November, 1829, at the 
age of eighty-five years. 

Robert Campbell, a younger brother of Colonel Arthur 
Campbell, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, May 25, 
1755, and emigrated to the Holston in 1771 ; serving in 
Christian's regiment on the Shawanoe Campaign in 1774; 
and was in the battle of Long Island Flats of Holston, in 
July, 1776, where in advance of his fellows, he was mistaken 
for an Indian, and came near losing his life, and when 
within twenty paces of a warrior, who had discharged his 
gun ineffectually at Campbell, the latter aimed at him in 
turn, when the savage hero folded his arms, and met his 


fate with a dignity and firmness worthy of the brightest 
days of chivalry. Seeing the Indians extending their Hnes 
to svn'round the whites, Campbell gave the alarm in season 
to counteract it. On Christian's Cherokee campaign, in 
the fall of 1776, he was a volunteer; and on the march 
to Highwassee, the troops forded French Broad river to their 
waists and armpits, then bivouacked on the southern bank 
during the greater part of a verj' cold night, without fire, 
apprehending an attack from the Indians, and renewing 
their march at the dawn of daj-, with shivering limbs, liter- 
ally encased in ice. At King's Mountain, though only an 
Ensign, he served conspicuously. In December following 
he was Adjutant to his brother. Colonel Arthur Campbell, 
on his Cherokee expedition, and at his own request, headed 
a party of sixty men to destroy Chilhowee. Having accom- 
plished this service, while returning, they had to pass a nar- 
row defile, three hundred yards in extent, lined by two or 
three hundred warriors ; and, without pausing, he directed 
his men to follow him in single file, and charged through at 
their best speed, without losing a man, though a heavy 
volley was fired at them. He served a long period as a 
Colonel of a regiment, and as a magistrate nearly forty 
years, in Washington County; then removed, in 1825, to 
Knox Countj^ Tennessee, where he died December twenty- 
seventh, 1831, in the seventy-seventh year of his age.* 

*Some writers have confounded Lieiitenant-Coloncl Richard Campbell with General 
William Campbell. In a sketch of the latter, in the first edition of Applcton: s Cyclopedia, 
it is stated that he was mortally wonndcd at the battle of Eutaw Springs, September 
eighth, 1781 ; and when told of the success of the American arms, died uttering the same 
words as Wolfe had done before him, " 1 die contended " This was true of Richard 
Campbell, also a native of the Virginia Valley, who was commissioned a Captain in 
February, 1776, and subsequently a Major, serving in Colonel John Gibson's regiment at 
Pittsburg. He served on Mcintosh's expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1778; and 
leading a relief party to Fort Laurens, in June, 1779. he commanded that frontier garrison 
till its evacuation shortly after. Joining General Greene with a regiment of Virginia 
regulars, he served with distinction at Guilford, Hobkirk's Hill and Ninety Six, sealing 
with his life's blood his devotion to his country at Eutaw. 



Cols. Shelby and Sevier, and their Officers. 

Notice of Evan Shelby. — Isaac Shelby's Life and Services. — Officers 
under him at Ki7ig s Mountain — Evan Shelby, Jr. — Gilbert Chris- 
tian — Moses Shelby — James Elliott — John Sawyers — George Max- 
well, and George Rutledge. — John Sevier's Life and Services. — 
His King' s Mountain Officers — JonatJian Tipton — Valentine and 
Robert Sevier — Christopher Taylor — Jacob Brown — Samuel Weir. 

Evan Shelb}^ who was born in Wales in 1720, emi- 
grated, with his father's family, to Maryland, about 1735, 
settling near North Mountain, in now Washington County, 
where he became a noted woodsman, hunter, and Indian 
trader. He figured prominently on the Maryland and 
Pennsylvania frontiers in the old French and Indian war — 
first as a Lieutenant, and then as a Captain. On Forbes' 
campaign, he gave chase to an Indian spy, in view of many 
of the troops, overtaking and tomahawking him. He sub- 
sequently distinguished himself at Point Pleasant, on Chris- 
tian's campaign, and on the expedition he led against the 
Chickamaugas. Rising to the rank of Colonel, and then 
General, he died December fourth, 1794, at the age of 
seven t)''-four years. 

His son, Isaac Shelby, was born near the North Moun- 
tain, Maryland, on the eleventh of December, 1750, where 
amid the excitements of the Indian wars, he obtained only 
the elements of a plain English education. In 177 1, he was 
for some time engaged in feeding and herding cattle in the 
extensive natural ranges west of the Alleghanies ; and in 
the same year, the Shelby connection removed to the Hols- 
ton country. In 1774, when the Indians became trouble- 
some, Isaac Shelby received the commission of a Lieuten- 


ant in the militia at the hands of Colonel William Preston, 
the County Lieutenant of Fincastle, and took his seat ; 
when his father, who was present, thinking his son had not 
shown proper respect in the matter, said to him : " Get up, 
you dog }'ou, and make your obeisance to the Colonel " — 
whereupon the 3'outhful officer arose, somewhat abashed, and 
made the amende honorable. He served with distinction, as 
second in command of his father's company, in the memor- 
able battle of Point Pleasant, October tenth, 1774, where the 
frontier riflemen fought the Shawanoes and allied tribes from 
sunrise till sundown, gaining a decisive victor}'. Point Pleas- 
ant was then made a garrison, where he remained in service 
till July, 1775, when Governor Dunmore ordered the dis- 
bandment of those troops, lest they might sj'mpathize with, 
and become obedient to the Whig authorities. 

He was now, for nearly twelve months, engaged in ex- 
ploring the wilds of Kentucky, and in surveying lands for 
Henderson and Companj-, who had made a large purchase 
from the Cherokees. During his absence in 1776, he was 
commissioned a Captain ; and, in 1777, Governor Henry ap- 
pointed him a Commissarjr of supplies for the several frontier 
garrisons, and for the ensiling treaty with the Cherokees at 
the Long Island of Holston in that year. It was only by his 
most indefatigable exertions that the large amount of pro- 
visions required, could be obtained. The following year he 
continued his Commissary services, providing for the Con- 
tinental army, and for General Mcintosh's expedidon against 
the Ohio Indians. In the spring of 1779, ^^ pledged his 
individual credit for supplies for his father's troops on the 
Chickamauga expedidon. I-Ie was, this spring, elected a 
member of the Virginia Legislature from Washington 
County ; and, in the fall, he was commissioned a Major by 
Governor Jefferson for the escort of guards to the Commis- 
sioners for extending the boundary line between Virginia 
and North Carolina. His residence was now found to be 
within the limits of the latter State, and he was, in Novem- 


ber of this year, appointed by Governor Caswell a Colonel 
and magistrate of the new Countjr of Sullivan, entering 
upon their duties at the organization of the County in 
Febmarj' following. 

In the the summer of 1780, Colonel Shelb}^ was in Ken- 
tucky, perfecting liis claims to lands he had five 3'ears before 
selected and marked out for himself, when the intelligence 
of the surrender of Charleston reached tliat country. He 
returned home in July, determined to enter the service, 
and remain in it until independence should be secured. 
He found a message from Colonel Charles McDowell, of 
Burke County, begging him to furnish all the aid he could to- 
wards checking the enemj-, who were over- running tlie 
three Southern States, and had reached the western borders 
of North Carolina. In a few days, he crossed the Allegha- 
nies with two hundred mounted riflemen. Their valor and 
patriotism were shown conspicuously at Thicketty Fort, 
Cedar Springs and Musgrove's Mill ; re-assuring the strug- 
gling patriots that the British leaders could not ride, rougli- 
shod, over the American people. Shelby's noble efforts 
in prosecuting tlie King's Mountain expedition, liis magna- 
nimity in securing tlie appointment of Colonel Campbell to 
the chief command, and his heroic conduct in the battle, all 
combine to render his services, at that critical period, of 
the greatest importance to his countr}-. 

The Legislature of North Carolina passed a vote of thanks 
to Colonels Shelby and Sevier for their good services, direct- 
ing that an elegant sword should be presented to each of 
them. General Greene wrote urgently requesting Col. 
Shelby to join him wnth a. body of mountaineers, which 
letter miscarried ; but a second message was more fortunate, 
and Shelby and Sevier led five hundred mounted riflemen 
over the mountains joining General Greene, about the first 
of November. Shelby was detached with Colonel Maham 
in an attempt on the British post of Fairlawn, at Colleton's 
plantation, a few miles from Monk's Comer: When a flag 


was sent in, demanding its surrender, tlie British officer in 
command returned for answer, that he would defend it 
to the last extremity. Shelby then went himself, assuring 
the commandant that should he be so fool-hardy as to suffer 
a storm, every soul would be put to death, as he had under 
his command several hundred mountaineers who would 
rush in, tomahawk in hand, upon the garrison. The officer 
then inquired if he had any cannon. " Yes, indeed," said 
Shelby, " guns that will blow you to atoms in a moment." 
" Then," replied the officer, " I suppose I must surrender," 
which he did — one hundred and five prisoners, with three 
hundred stand of arms. Shelby shordy after obtained leave 
of absence, to attend the North Carolina Legislature, of 
which he was a member. Soon after the mountaineers 
returned home — not deserters as Judge Johnson describes 
them, for the call upon them was for a special service— to 
aid in intercepting Cornwallis ; who, having been effectually 
intercepted at Yorktown, they felt that they had fulfilled all 
that could reasonably be required of them, and retired 
to their homes, in a deep snow, early in January ensuing.* 
The Legislature of North Carolina soon adjourned, and 
Colonel Shelby returning to the Holston, was engaged dur- 
ing spring in preparing for an expedition against the Chick- 
amau^a band of Cherokees, and the hostile Creeks at the 
sources of the Mobile, in which enterprise he was to have 
been joined by two hundred men from Washington County, 
Virginia ; but on account of the poverty of that State, the 
authorities discouraged the scheme, and reaching Big Creek, 
thirty miles below Long Island of Holston, the expedition 
was relinquished. He was, in 1782, again chosen a member 
of the North Carolina Assembly, and was appointed one of 
the Commissioners to adjust preemption claims on Cumber- 
land river, and lay off the lands allotted to the officers and 

* Haywood's History o/ Tennessee, 102-106 ; Todd's il//V of Shelby ; MS. Etatement of 
Gov. Shelby, apparently addressed to Judge Johnson, controverting his statements about 
the pretended desertion of the mountaineers; MS. notes of conversations with James 
Sevier, who was in the service, and with Col. George Wilson. 


soldiers of the North Carolina line, which service he per- 
formed in the winter of 1782-83. In April following, he 
was married at Boonesborough, Kentucky, to Susanna, 
daughter of Captain Nathaniel Hart, one of the pioneers of 
the country, and now settled on his preemption near Stan- 
ford, where he continued to reside for forty-three years. 

In January, 1783, Colonel Shelby having been appointed 
by Governor Harrison and the Council of Virginia, one 
of the Commissioners to hold treaties with the Western 
Indians, a conference was held at Long Island of I^Iol- 
ston with the Cherokees in July, but nothing of mo- 
ment was accomplished. The proposed treaty v^'itli the 
Shawnees miscarried ; and only Colonels Donelson and 
Martin met the Chickasaws at French Lick, on Cumber- 
land, in November, and interchanged friendly talks with 
them. For several years Indian disturbances continued, 
the Cherokees waylaying the Kentucky road, and inflict- 
ing much injury- on the travelers to that country. The 
Kentucky people resolved to march in strong force 
against Chickamauga, and could only be restrained, in the 
summer of 1791, in view of an approaching treaty at 
Knoxville. Colonel Shelby attended — the Indians were 
surly, when he frankly told them, that there were a thousand 
riflemen in Kentucky, with their horses all shod, ready 
to march against them. "Too many — too many," said 
the Cherokees, and they patched up a temporary peace. 

He was a member of the early Conventions held at 
Danville to secure a separation from Virginia, and of the 
Convention, in April, 1792, that formed the first Constitution 
of Kentucky. In May following, he was chosen the first 
Governor of the new State ; and during his four years' term 
he proved a model Chief Magistrate, lending every aid in 
his power in supplying troops for quelling the Indian war in 
the North-west. He was three times chosen an elector, 
supporting Thomas Jefferson for President; and when the 
second war with Great Britain burst upon the country, he 


consented again to serve as Governor, exerting ever}' influ- 
ence in sustaining the Government, and bringing the con- 
flict to an honorable issue. The revival of the war spirit 
reminded North Carolina of its ancient pledge of a sword 
to Governor Shelby for his King's Mountain services, and 
it was presented to him in 1813 ; and he led the Kentucky 
troops, the same j-ear, on the Canada campaign, which 
closed with the victory of the Thames. For this patriotic 
service, Congress, in 181 7, voted him a gold medal. In 
1818, he was appointed, bj^ President IMonroe. Secretarjr 
of War ; but, at his advanced age, preferring the quiet of 
private life, he declined its acceptance. In 1818, he was 
associated with General Jackson in holding a treaty with 
the Chickasaws, which resulted in the cession of their 
lands west of the Tennessee to the General Government — 
his last public service. He was stricken with paralysis in 
1820, disabling his right arm and limb ; but his mind con- 
tinued unimpaired until July eighteenth, 1826, when he 
died of apoplex}', sitting in his chair — with onh' his vener- 
able companion present, as he had often expressed his wish 
that it should be. The noble patriot of three wars thus 
quietly passed away, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. 

Evan Shelby, Jr., who acted as Major in his brother's 
regiment at King's Mountain, was born in Maryland about 
1754. He was a Lieutenant on Christian's campaign of 
1776. Beside his participation in the King's Mountain 
expedition, he served as a volunteer at the Cowpens ; and, 
near the close ofi78i, with his brother Isaac in South Caro- 
lina. Left on one occasion, with three or four men, to 
guard quite a squad of horses on an island, a British party 
of some ninety men came and took the horses ; Shelby and 
his associates escaping. But they dogged the enemy until 
they camped in a lane, when, leaving one of their number 
behind some distance with a horn which he was directed, at 
the proper time, to blow furiously, Shelby and the others 


made a bold push on the camp, hallooing " surround ! sur- 
round them !" This, with the horn, indicating a charge, 
some of the enemy began to fall back, when the horses, 
becoming frightened, ran at full speed over the Red-Coats, 
materially aiding in the stampede. The Whigs killed sev- 
eral of the skedaddlers. Marrying his cousin, Catharine, 
daughter of Major John Shelby he settled a station about 
1790, pretty well up the West Fork of Red river, some fifty 
miles north-west of Nashville. On the eighteenth of 
January, 1793, when out hunting, at the mouth of Casey's 
creek of Little river, in the eastern part of the present county 
of Trigg, Kentucky, he, with two companions, was killed 
by hostile Indians — his brother, Moses escaping unhurt. 

Gilbert Christian, son of Robert Christian, was born in 
Augusta County, Va., about 1734, and participated in the 
border wars of 1755-63. Settling in the Holston country, 
he commanded a company on Christian's Cherokee cam- 
paign, the Chickamauga expedition, and at King's Moun- 
tain. He served as a Major on Arthur Campbell's expedi- 
tion, figured prominently in the Franklin Republic, and 
acted as a Colonel during the Cherokee war of 1788 till 
his death, at Knoxville, in November 1793, when returning 
from the Hightower campaign. 

Moses Shelb}% born about 1756, was severely wounded at 
the head of his company at King's Mountain. He served at 
the siege of Savannah in 1779, '^^ Cowpens, and the capture 
of Augusta, in 1781 — on one of which occasions he received 
six sabre wounds. After the Indian wars, he settled near 
New Madrid, Missouri, where he died September seven- 
teenth, 1828, about sevent3f-two }'ears of age. 

James Elliott was an early settler on Holston. From an 
, Ensign in 1777, he rose by good service to the rank of Cap- 
tain, commanding his company at King's Mountain ; and 
while serving on Colonel Arthur Campbell's Cherokee expe- 
pedition, he was killed atTellico, December twent3r-eighth, 
1780, by a concealed Indian — Colonel Campbell denominat- 
ing him " a gallant young officer." 


John Sawyers was born in Virginia in 1745, shortly after 
liis parents arrived from England, who early settled in 
Augusta County, Virginia. In 1761 young Sawyers was 
engaged on Colonel B3'rd's abortive expedition, and in other 
frontier service against the Indians. In 1768, he with others 
explored the Holston Valley, early removed to that frontier, 
and served at Point Pleasant, on Christian's Cherokee cam- 
paign, and on the Chickamauga expedition in 1779, and led 
a company at King's Mountain. Settling in what is now 
Knox County, Tennessee, he was made a Major, then a 
Colonel, and twice chosen a member of the Legislature. 
He died November twentieth, 1831, aged eightj^-six years. 

George Maxwell born in Virginia, 1751, early migrated 
to the Holston. A Lieutenant in 1777, he was much en- 
gaged in frontier sei^vice, commanding a company at King's 
Mountain. On the organization of Sullivan County, Ten- 
nessee, in 1780, he was made one of the Justices ; in 1784, 
a Major ; the next year a Colonel, and member of the 
Assembly of the short-lived Republic of Franklin ; in 1787, 
a member of the North Carolina Legislature; in 1799, ^ 
member of the Tennessee Senate from Hawkins county, 
where he died November twenty-third, 1822, in his seventy- 
second year. Of his associates. Captain John Pemberton, 
and Captain Webb, we have no knowledge. 

Col. John Sevier and his Officers. 

Near the close of the seventeenth centurj^, the grand- 
father of the subject of this sketch fled from his native Paris, 
on account of religious persecution, and settled in London. 
The family name of Xavier was now Anglicized to Sevier. 
Here he married a Miss Smith, and had two sons, Val- 
entine and William, who, when scarcely grown, ran away, 
and took passage for America. This was not far from 1 740. 
Among their fellow-passengers were several young men of 
a wild and sporting character, from whom Valentine Sevier 
acquired habits of gambling and dissipation. Landing at 


Baltimore, he subsequently married a Miss Joanna Goade, 
and settled in then Augusta, now Rockingham County, in 
the Valley of Virginia, six miles south-west of where the 
little village of New Market was subsequently located. 
Here he opened a farm, and carried on trade with the Indians, 
and here John Sevier was born, September twenty-third, 
1745. After the Indian war of 1755 broke out, the family 
removed for safety to Fredericksburg, where they remained 
nearly two years, and where young Sevier attended school. 

Returning to his old home in the Valley, Valentine 
Sevier found his domicil had been burned b}' the Indians. 
The cabins were re-built, and trade re-commenced. John 
Sevier was sent to Staunton to school ; and while there, he 
one day accidentally fell into a mill-race, and was saved 
from drowning by the heroic efforts of two young ladies — 
one of whom subsequently became the wife of George Mat- 
thews, one of the heroes of Point Pleasant, and subsequent^ 
a Colonel in the Revolution, and Governor of Georgia. He 
now engaged with his father in trade ; and, in 1761, before 
he had turned of seventeen, he married Miss Sarah Haw- 
kins, cleared up a farm, and engaged in excursions against 
the Indians — on one occasion, he and his party narrowly 
escaping a fatal ambuscade by a timely discovery of the trap 
their enemies had set for them. He laid out the village of 
New Market, and there for some time he kept a store and 
inn, and carried on a farm ; and then engaged in merchan- 
dizing in the neighboring village of Middletown. 

About 1 77 1, he visited the Holston country, carrying some 
goods with him for trade, and repeated the visit in 1772. 
At the Watauga Old Fields, on Doe river, near its junction 
with the Watauga, he witnessed a horse-race, \yhere a large, 
savage fellow, named Shoate, took .from a traveling stran- 
ger his horse, pretending that he had won him in a bet. 
Such an act disgusted Sevier with the country, naturally 
beautiful; but the elder Evan Shelby remarked: "Never 
mind these rascals: they'll soon take poplar" — meaning 


canoes, and put off. This Shoate became a noted horse-thief, 
and was pursued and killed about 1779-80. Late in 1773, 
John Sevier removed his family to the Holston country, and 
first located in the Kej'wood settlement, on the north shore of 
Holston, half a dozen miles from the Shelbys. Before his 
removal from Virginia, he had been commissioned a Cap- 
tain by Governor Dunmore. 

He was at Watauga Fort when attacked, July twenty- 
first, 1776. At day-break, when there were a large num- 
ber of people gathered there, and the women were out-side 
milking the cows, a large body of Cherokees fired on the 
milkers ; but they all fortunately escaped to the fort, the 
gates of which were thrown open for their reception. 
Among the young girls thus engaged was Catharine 
Sherrill, who, when she reached the gate, found it shut ; but 
equal to the emergency, she threw her bonnet over the 
pickets, and then clambered over herself, and, as she jumped 
within, was caught in the arms of John Sevier — her future 
husband. A warm attack on the fort ensued, during which 
Captain Sevier thought he killed one of the Indians. A 
man stole out of the stockade at night, went to the Holston, 
when a large party marched to the relief of the beleaguered 
garrison. It was because the people refused to join and co- 
operate with the enemies of their country, that the savages 
were instigated to murder them, destroy their crops and 
improvements, and drive off their cattle and horses. 

John Sevier was among the foremost in the defence of the 
Watauga and Nolachucky settlements. He had been 
elected Clerk of the first self-constituted court in 1775 ; and, 
in 1776, he was chosen one of the representatives of the 
united settlements to the North Carolina Convention at Hali- 
fax, and took his seat, securing the establishment of the dis- 
trict of Washington. Hastening back home, he reached 
there in season to serve on Christian's expedition against 
the Cherokees at the head of a fine company of riflemen ; 
and also, at Colonel Christian's request, he acted as a spy 


during the campaign. He continued his services, till the con- 
clusion of the treat}^ at Long Island of Holston in July, 
1777. In the fall of that year, he was appointed Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel lor Washington County. During the period 
1777-79, ^^'^ Indians, Tories and horse-thieves required Col- 
onel Sevier's constant vigilance. In the summer of 1780, 
he was left in defence of the settlements, while Major 
Charles Robertson led the Watauga troops on the campaign 
in South Carolina. During their absence, August four- 
teenth, having some time previously lost his wife, he was 
married to Miss Catharine Shen-ill. 

His gallant services at King's Mountain cannot be too 
highly extolled. December sixteenth following, he defeated 
the Cherokees at Boyd's creek, killing thirteen, and taking 
all their baggage, and then joined Colonel Arthur Campbell 
on an expedition against the hostile Indian towns. On the 
third of February, 1781, he was made a full Colonel ; and 
in March, he led a successful foray against the Middle 
Cherokee Settlements, killing about thirty of their warriors, 
capturing nine prisoners, burning six towns, and bringing 
off about two hundred horses. 

" What time from right to left there rang the Indian war-whoop wild, 
Where Sevier's tall Watauga boys through the dim dells defiled." 

Having, in February, been appointed by General Greene 
one of the Commissioners to hold a treaty with the Indians, 
a conference took place with the Cherokees at the Long 
Island of Holston in July, Colonel Sevier and Major Mardn 
attending, but without any permanent results. In the 
autumn of this year. Colonel Sevier served under Generals 
Greene and Marion in South Carohna ; and, in 1782, he 
carried on a campaign against the Cherokees. 

In November, 1784, he was appointed Brigadier-Gen- 
eral, which he declined because of his leadership in the effort 
to establish the republic of Frankhn. During the period of 
1784 to 1788, he was made its Governor and defender. He 
was apprehended by the North Carolina authorities, on a 


charge of rebellion against the State, and conveyed to Mor- 
ganton, where he was rescued by a party of his friends ; and 
returning home, "Chuckyjack" led a campaign against 
the Indians. As the East Tennesseans were divided in sen- 
timent, the Franklin Republic, after a turbulent career of 
some four years, ceased to exist. In 1789, General Sevier 
was chosen a member of the Legislature of North Carolina, 
when an act of oblivion was passed, and he was re-instated 
as Brigadier-General. In 1790-91, he was elected to repre- 
sent the East Tennessee district of North Carolina in Con- 
gress. When Tennessee was organized into a Territory, 
he was appointed by President Washington a Brigadier- 
General in the militia ; and he continued to protect the 
frontier settlements, carrying on the Hightower campaign 
against the Cherokees in 1793. In 1798, he was made a 
General in the Provisional armj-. 

On the organization of a State Government in 1796, 
General Sevier was chosen the first Governor, and by suc- 
cessive re-elections was continued in that office till 1801. 
In 1802, he served as a Commissioner in running the bound- 
ary line between Tennessee and Virginia. He again served 
as Governor from 1803 till 1809, and then a term in the 
State Senate. He was chosen to a seat in Congress in 
181 1, serving, during the war, on the important com- 
mittee on military affairs, till 1815 ; when President Madi- 
son appointed him one of the Commissioners, to ascertain 
the boundary of the Creek territory, and died while on that 
service, in camp, on the east side of the Tallapoosa, near 
Fort Decatur, Alabama, September twenty-fourth, 185 1, 
closing a busy, useful life at the age of seventy years. As 
a proof of the love and veneration of his neighbors and 
friends, while absent in the Creek country, they had again 
elected him to Congress without opposition. In the language 
of the distinguished Hugh L. White, who had sen'ed 
under him in the old Indian wars: "General Sevier was 
considered in his day, among the most gallant, patriotic, 
and useful men in the country where he lived." * 


Jonathan Tipton was born in Frederick County, Virginia, 
in 1750. Early settling in what became Washington 
Covinty, East Tennessee, he was, in February, 1777, made 
Major, and was engaged in guarding the frontiers ; and in 
1780, had a fight with the Indians at the mouth of Flat creek, 
on Nolachucky. He was second in command of Sevier's 
regiment at King's Mountain : and then served on Arthur 
Campbell's campaign, leading a detachment against Telas- 
see and Chilhowee. In the fall of 1781 , he went on service 
with Colonels Shelby and Sevier under General Greene, in 
South Carolina. Major Tipton died in Overton County, 
Tennessee, January eighteenth, 1833, in his eighty-third 

Valentine Sevier was born in what is now Rockingham 
County, Virginia, about 1747, and settled at an early period 
in East Tennessee. He was a Sergeant, and one of the 
spies, at the battle of Point Pleasant, where, sa3's Isaac 
Shelby, "he was distinguished for vigilance, activity, and 
bravery." He subsequently served in the Indian wars in 
East Tennessee, and commanded a company at Thicketty 
Fort, Cedar Springs, Musgrove's Mill, and King's Moun- 
tain. He was the first Sheriff of Washington County, a 
Justice of the court, and rose in the militia to the rank of a 
Colonel. He removed to the mouth ol Red river on Cumber- 
land, now Clarksville, where he was attacked by Indians, 
November eleventh, 1794, killing and wounding several 
of his family. After long suffering from chronic rheu- 
matism, he died at Clarksville, Febmary twenty-third, 
1800, in his fifty-third year; his widow surviving till 1844 
in her one hundred and first year, His younger brother, 
Robert Sevier, who also commanded a company at King's 
Mountain, and was mortally wounded in the conflict, was 
previously much engaged in ridding the Watauga and Nola- 
chucky region of Tories and horse thieves. 

Christopher Taylor was born in Bedford County, Vir- 

* MS. letter to the author, April 6th, 1839. 


ginia, in 1746, and early removed, with a young family, 
to East Tennessee. He served on Christian's campaign ; 
he was chosen a Captain, in 1778, and ranged the frontiers, 
serving in 1780, at King's Mountain, and subsequently 
against the Indians. He was a member of the Jonesborough 
convention in 1784, and died in Washington County, Ten- 
nessee, September tenth, 1833, at the age of eighty-seven. 

Jacob Brown was born in South Carolina, December 
eleventh, 1736; settled on Nolachucky, in 1772, purchas- 
ing lands of the Cherokees. He served in the Indian 
wars, at the head of his company in Sevier's regiment 
at King's Mountain, and then on Arthur Campbell's 
expedition. H^e was made a Major, defeated a party 
of Indians in the fall of 1781, and died, June twenty-eighth, 
1785, from an accidental wound received while out hunting. 

Samuel Weir was another of Sevier's Captains at King's 
Mountain. He was an active participant in the Franklin 
Republic mo^'ement ; led a party, in 1793, against Telassee, 
killing sixteen Indians, and taking four prisoners. In 1793 
and 1794, he was a member of the Territorial Legislature, 
and, in 1796, a member of the Convention that formed the 
Constitution of Tennessee. He served many years as 
clerk of Sevier County court ; and lived to a good old 
age. He was fully six feet in height, dark complexioned, 
and possessed much energy of character. 

Other Captains of Sevier's regiment at King's Moun- 
tain were Samuel Williams, a member of the Jonesborough 
Convendon of 1784, and a representative of Carter County, 
in the Legislature in 1799 ; James Sdnson, Jesse Beene, and 
Thomas Price, who were much engaged against the Chero- 
kees. George Russell, Joel Callahan, Isaac Lane, Andrew 
Caruthers, aad William Robinson, were probably all 
Lieutenants. Caruthers, a native of Ireland, died in Lin- 
coln Count}', Tenn., in 1818; and Robinson, a native of 
Scodand, was among the defeated Regulators at Alamance, 
in May, 177 1, and lived to advanced years, dying also in 
Lincoln County. 



Col. Ben. Cleveland, Maj. Joseph Winston and their 


Cleveland's Ancestry.— His Early Life and Hunting Adventures.— 
Trip to Kentucky.— Elk Hunt and Narrow Escapes.— Revolution- 
ary War.— Suppressing Scotch Tories.— Rutherford's Cherokee 
Campaign.— Marches to Watauga.— Appointed Colonel.— Serves in 
Georgia. — New River Scout. — King's Mountain.— Hangs Coyle 
and Brown. — Captured by Tories and his Rescue. — Riddle and 
Wells Hung. — Other Tory Brigands Taken— Nichols, Tate, and 
Harrison. — Thumbing the Notch. — Reforming Tories. — Removes to 
Tugalo. — Hangs Dinkins. — Appointed Judge. — Anecdote. — Great 
Size, Death, and Character. 

Major Joseph Winston Noticed.— Ben. Herndon.—Micajah and Joel 
Lewis. — Robert and John Cleveland. — Jesse Franklin. — Williarn 
I.^noir — John Barton — William Meredith, and Minor Smith. — 
John Brown and Samuel Johnson. — David and John Wither- 
spoon. — Jo. Herndon, Richard Allen, and Elisha Reynolds. 

A beauty of the time of Charles the First — so runs the 
story — named Elizabeth Cleveland, a daughter of an officer 
of the palace of Hampton Court, attracted the attention of 
her sovereign, and an amour was the result. When Oliver 
Cromvsrell became the i-ising star of the empire, the same 
charms won his sympathies, and a son was born unto them. 
The mother retired from the public gaze, and subse- 
quently married a Mr. Bridge. When this wild colt of a 
son grew up, he took his mother's name and was the 
reputed author of a book — " The Life and Adventures of 
Mr. Cromwell, Natural son of Oliver Cromwell,'" pub- 
lished after his death, by consent of his son, first in 1731, a 
second edition, with a French translation in 1741, and yet 
another edition in 1760. 


The perusal of this work, more than thirty years ago, 
left on the mind of the writer the strong conviction that it 
was a romance, and a recent re-examination of it conlirms 
that opinion. Noble, in his learned production on the 
Cromwell Family, published nearly a century since, 
declares that these pretended Adventures are "too marvel- 
ous to be true ;'' and a writer in Notes and ^leries, in 
1856, states that from " the extraordinary adventures related 
in it," he " considers it a fictitious narrative." Whether 
or not this work is a romance, or records a series of facts 
more wonderful than fiction, it is nevertheless true, that 
Colonel Benjamin Cleveland had a copy of it, to which he 
used to point with no little pride, claiming his descent 
through this " Mr. Cleveland," from the illustrious Oliver 
Cromwell. Others of the Cleveland connection made the 
same claim. 

While Noble, Guizot, and other writers on Cromwell, 
agree that the renowned Protector, with all his religious 
seeming, "probably had natural children," yet it is ex- 
ceedingly doubtful if our King's Mountain hero descended 
from any such questionable origin. History informs us, 
that the Clevelands were an ancient family, deriving their 
name from a tract of country in the North Riding of York- 
shire, England, still called Cleveland. Tradition designates 
Alexander Cleveland, Sr. and Jr. ; and that John Cleve- 
land, with his father, the younger Alexander Cleveland, 
early migrated to Virginia, and married a Miss Martha 
Coffee. He settled on the since famous Bull Run, in 
Prince William County, where he engaged in the employ- 
ment of a house-joiner. His son, Benjamin Cleveland, the 
subject of this sketch, was born there May twenty-sixth, 
1738; and while yet very j'oung, his father removed some 
sixty miles to the south-west, locating in a border setde- 
ment on Blue Run, some six or eight miles above its 
junction with the Rapidan, in Orange County, near the line 
of Albemarle. Not only young Cleveland's parents, but 


his grandfather Clevehmd and wife also settled on Blue 
Run; the latter couple d3'ing there, about 1770, within 
three days of each other, when about a hundred years 
old * ; and here his parents lived and died at a good old age. 

When about twehe jears old, and his parents were both 
absent, some drunken rowdies called at the house, and 
began to throw the stools into the fire. Little Ben, satisfied 
what his father would do were he at home, snatched the 
old man's rifle from its hooks, and simply said, " gentle- 
men, do you see this?" They saw it, and the youth's 
determined attitude, which led them to think discretion the 
better part of valor, when one of the party said to his 
fellows: "We'd better be off; we don't know what this 
excited child might do." So the brave lad put the lawless 
drunkards to flight, and saved his father's property. 

Nor was it inebriates alone that young Cleveland early 
learned to vanquish. Like Nimrod of old, he became " a 
mighty hunter ; " and, like Daniel Boone, he had an uncon- 
querable aversion to the tame drudgery of farm life, as he 
regarded it. He spent much of his time from early youth 
in the wilderness, securing pelts and furs, which found a 
ready market. The heads of the Dan, Staunton and Pig 
rivers, in the region that subsequently became Pittsylvania 
County, was a favorite resort for hunters, and here young 
Cleveland reaped his forest harvests. Fire hunting, at 
that day, was a very common mode of entrapping the deer 
in warm weather, when they repaired to particular localities 
at night in shallow? streams, where they could find succulent 
food, and be less exposed to tormenting insects. The 
torchHghts of the hunters would so dazzle the fated deer's 

'This fact is given on the authority of Maj. John Redd, of Henry County, Va., to the 
writer in 1845. who was born in Orange County, Va., in 1755, and personally knew these 
old people. If then, Alexander Cleveland, the younger, who died about 1770, was a hun- 
dred years old. he must have been boin about 1670— only seventeen years after Cromwell 
became Protector. This would seem to spoil the story of descent from Oliver Cromwell 
through the pretended "Mr. Cromwell"; and that he must have descended from 
Alexander Cleveland, Sr., whose birth evidently was considerably anterior to the time of 
the Protectorate. 


attention, that he would stand in amazement watching the 
strange hght, while the wary hunter had only to blaze away 
at its glaring eyes, and bring down the stupid animal. 

There was an old Dutchman in that region who had a 
good stand for fire-hunting, and young Cleveland concluded 
he would scare him out of it. Pealing some bark from a 
tree, he placed it in the water so as to represent a counterfeit 
deer. The next night, he hid himself near by where he could 
watch operations. In due time, the Dutch hunter made his 
appearance — fired on the supposed deer, without apparently 
bringing him down ; then repeated his shot, and still the 
deer remained unmoved. The Dutchman now becoming 
alarmed, exclaimed, " Its de duy-vil ;" and quickly aband- 
oned that hunting ground — Cleveland chuckling not a litde 
over the success of his stratagem. 

At length young Cleveland married, in Orange County, 
Miss Mary Graves — of an excellent family, whose father 
was in quite comfortable circumstances. Tradition tells us 
that Cleveland took an active part in the French and Indian 
war ; but the particulars are lost to history. He, no doubt, 
in that border conflict became initiated into military life, 
which proved a preparatory school for his Revolutionary 
services. But his marriage did not reform his idle and 
reckless habits. He still loved gaming, horse-racing, and 
the wild frolicking common on the frontiers. In company 
with Joseph Martin — afterwards General Martin — he put in 
a field of wheat on Pig river, about the year 1767, where he 
settled some four years before ; but they were too indolent 
to fence it properly. When harvest time came, there was 
something of a crop. As was the custom of the times, they 
invited their friends to join them in cutting the grain ; for 
which hilarious occasion some liquor and a fiddler were 
provided, and a good time was necessary before entering 
upon the work, which ended in a debauch, and the grain 
was never harvested. 

To break awav from such habits and associations, 


Cleveland, about 1769, removed, with his father-m-law and 
family, to North Carohna, and settled, near the foot of the 
Blue Ridge, on the waters of Roaring Creek, a northern 
affluent of the Yadkin, in what was then Rowan, afterwards 
Surry, and a few years later Wilkes County. Here Cleve- 
land, with the aid of Mr. Graves' servants, opened a farm, 
raised stock, and devoted much of his time to hunting. At 
some subsequent period, he located on the noted tract, on 
the northern bank of the Yadkin, fifteen miles below 
Wilkesboro, known as the Roxmd About — takincr its name 
from the horse-shoe shape of the land, nearly surrounded 
by the river. 

From Daniel Boone, who was among the earliest 
of the pioneers of the Yadkin Valley, Cleveland learned 
of the Kentucky country — that land of cane and pea-vine, 
abounding with deer and buffalo. Its wild charms, its rich 
lands, and its teeming game, rendered it the hunter's para- 
dise. Such attractions as these Cleveland could not resist. 
In the summer of about 1772, in company with Jesse 
Walton, Jesse Bond, Edward Rice, and William High- 
tower, he set out on a trip of hunting and exploration, in 
quest of the beautiful land of Kentucky. When they had 
safely passed Cumberland Gap, and entered upon the 
borders of the famous hunting grounds, with cheerful hopes 
and glowing prospects, they were unexpectedly met and 
plundered by a party of Cherokees, of all their guns, horses, 
peltrj', and every thing they possessed, even to their hats 
and shoes. A poor old shot gun was given in turn, with 
a couple of charges of powder and shot, when they were 
threateningly ordered to leave the Indian hunting-grounds. 
They had no alternative. On their way home, they hus- 
banded their ammunition as long as possible ; with one of 
the charges they killed a small deer — the other was spent 
ineffectually. They had the good fortune to catch a broken- 
winged wild goose, and eventually had to kill their faith- 
ful little hunting dog, greatly to their regret ; and Cleve- 


land, in after j-ears, used to say that this dog was tame, 
under the circumstances, the sweetest animal food he ever 
ate. With this scanty supply, and a few berries, they 
managed to hold out till thej^ reached the settlements, but 
in a nearljr famished condition. 

Several months afterwards, Cleveland made up a party 
of chosen men — among whom was William Hightower, 
who wended their way to the Cherokee towns, determined 
to recover the horses that had been taken from them. From 
some circumstance not now known, Flightower gave name 
to the Hightower or Etowah river. Cleveland applied to 
a noted Cherokee chief, known among the whites as Big 
Bear, who replied that the Indians who had his horses 
would be likely to kill him as soon as they should learn the 
object of his mission ; bvit, he added by waj^ of compliment, 
"if you were to be killed, I should claim that honor, as 
one big warrior ought onlj- to be slain by another." Big 
Bear sent an escort with Cleveland to the several towns to 
aid him in reclaiming his property. He succeeded without 
much difficulty, except in the last case. The Indian having 
the horse, showed fight, raised his tomahawk, and Cleve- 
land cocked his rifle, when his friendly escort interposed, 
and saved their red brother from a fatal shot, by throwing 
him to the ground ; but not before he had hurled his battle- 
axe at his antagonist, which happily did no other harm 
than cutting away a part of the bosom of Cleveland's hunting 
shirt. Then Cleveland, at the instance of his Indian guides, 
mounted his newly recovered horse, which was at hand, and 
was riding awa}^, when a ball from the rifle of the enraged 
Cherokee, wounded the animal, but not seriously. Return- 
ing to Big Bear's village, that chief increased the guard ; and 
Cleveland and party retired with their horses in triumph. 
On their way back to North Carolina, they went by the Tu- 
galo country, which greatly attracted Cleveland's attention. 

Reuben Stringer was a noted woodsman of the Upper 
Yadkin Valley, and was often Cleveland's associate in his 


hunting adventures. They took an elk hunt together, in 
the month of August, when these animals were in their 
prime The elk were large, and very wild, and gradually 
retired before the advancing settlements. A few years 
anterior to the Revolutionary war, they were yet to be found 
at the foot of the mountain ranges on the heads of New 
river. Pursuing a wounded elk, Cleveland in attempting to 
intercept him at a rocky point of the river, where he ex- 
pected the animal would cross the stream, found himself sur- 
rounded by a large number of rattle-snakes, coiled, hissing, 
and fearfully sounding their alarm rattles on every hand. 
From this dangerous dilemma, his only deliverance seemed 
to be an instantaneous plunge into the river, which he made 
without a moment's hesitation, and thus probably escaped a 
horrid death. 

While Stringer was busy one day in preparing a fire for 
cooking some of their wild meat for a repast, Cleveland 
spread his blanket on the ground, beneath a cluster of large 
white oaks, to rest himself, and soon fell asleep. In a few 
moments he suddenly awakened, in a startled condition — 
why, he could not tell — and, casting his eyes into the tree- 
tops above, he discovered a large limb, directly overhead, 
nearly broken off, hanging onlj^ by a slight splinter to its 
parent stem. Fie said to his companion, pointing to the 
object of his alarm : " Look, Reuben, and see what an 
ugly thing we have camped under !" " It has, indeed, an 
ugly appearance ; " replied Stringer, "but since it has ap- 
parently hung a great while in that condition, it may very 
likely do so a good while longer." "Ah", said Cleveland, 
" as long as it has hung there, there is a time for it to come 
down, and I will not be in the way of danger," and gathered 
up his blanket, to spread it in a safer place. As he was 
passing the fire, he heard a crack above — the splinter had 
broken, and the limb came tumbling down, plunging its 
three prongs directly into the ground where Cleveland had 
but a moment before lain. They pulled over the fallen 


limb, and found its prongs had penetrated into the earth to 
the depth of fourteen inches. Stringer congratulated his 
comrade on his fortunate awaking and removal, "for," he 
added, " in one minute more, you would have been inevit- 
ably killed." "Ah, Reuben," said Cleveland, who was 
very much of a fatalist, " I always told you that no man 
would die till his appointed time ; and when it comes, there 
can be no possible escape.'' 

But Cleveland's hunting days were about to end. It 
was no longer a war with the wild beasts of the forest, but 
with his fellow men. The story of Colonial taxation by the 
King and Parliament reached the Yadkin Valley, and 
Cleveland was among the first to resent the threatened tyr- 
anny ; and soon came the tidings of Lexington and Bunker 
Hill. North Cai-olina was organized into companies, regi- 
ments, and brigades ; and, on the first of September, 1775, 
Cleveland was appointed an Ensign in the second regiment, 
under the command of Colonel Robert Howe. But he 
seems not to have accepted it, preferring to serve in the 
militia in his immediate locality, where he judged his 
presence and efforts would be more useful. 

During 1775, when Cleveland's neighbors and friends 
of the Upper Yadkin Valley had occasion to go to Cross 
Creek to dispose of their surplus productions, and purchase 
their supplies of iron, sugar, salt, and other necessaries, 
they were compelled, before they were permitted to buy or 
sell, to take the oath of allegiance to the King. When 
Cleveland heard of these tyrannical acts, and attempts to 
forestall the politics of the people, he swore roundly that 
he would like nothing better than to dislodge those Scotch 
scoundrels at Cross Creek. Nor was an opportunity long 
wanting. In February, 1776, the Highland Tories of that 
locality raised the British standard, when Captain Cleve- 
land marched down from the mountains with a party of 
volunteer riflemen ; and, tradidon has it, that he reached 
the front in season to share in the fight, and in the suppres- 


sion of the revolt. He scoured the country in the region of 
Wake Forest, capturing several outlaws, some of whom he 
hung. to the trees in the woods ; one of whom was Captain 
Jackson, who was executed within half a mile of Ransom 
Sutherland's homestead, whose houses and merchandize, 
Jackson had caused to be laid in ashes a few days after the 
battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. " I don't recollect," said 
Colonel Sutherland, in the North Carolina University Maga- 
zine, for September, 1854, " after Cleveland had done with 
them, to have heard much more of those wretches"' during 
the war." In this service, or at least a part of it, Cleveland 
was under Colonel James Moore, who had served with credit 
on the frontiers in the old French and Indian war, and 
whose determined bravery gave him ^& sobriquet of "Mad 
Jimmie" among the soldiery; and for years thereafter, 
Moore was the theme of Cleveland's admiration. 

V^hen the Cherokees were inveigled by the British into 
hostilities. Captain Cleveland, in the summer of 1776, served 
a tour of duty in scouting on theWestern frontier of the State ; 
and, shortly after, getting intelligence that a Tory Colonel 
Roberts had embodied a number of Loyalists on the north- 
west side of the Blue Ridge, on the borders of North Caro- 
linia and Virginia, he went in quest of them ; but hearing 
of this pursuit, they disbanded and dispersed. In the au- 
tumn of that year, when General Rutherford led a strong 
force against the Cherokees, Cleveland and his company 
went on the campaign, in the Surry regiment, under Colonel 
Joseph Williams * and Major Joseph Winston. William Le- 
noir, who was Cleveland's Lieutenant, was accustomed, in 
after years, to recount the hardships and privations the troops 

''Colonel Williams was born in Hanover County, Virginia, March twenty-seventh. 
1748 ; migrated in 1766 to Granville County. North Carolina, where he married Rebecca, 
daughter of Thomas Lanier, and shortly after settled near the Shallow Ford of Yadkin, in 
what afterwards became Surry County. When that County was organized, lie was made 
Colonel, and led his regiment on Rutherford's Cherokee campaign in 1776. He shared in 
defeating the Tory leaders, Colonel Gideon and Captain Hezikiah Wright, at the head of 
three hundred and ten Loyalists, at the Shallow Ford, October, fifteenth, 17S0 Colonel 
Williams died August eleventh, 1827. 


had to suffer on that sei^vice — often destitute of provisions, 
without tents, with but few blankets, dressed in clothing 
made of rude materials, derived from liemp, tow, and the 
wild nettle. Though often harrassed on their march by 
parties in ambush, there was no general engagement — 
Captain Cleveland sharing in the skirmishes and bush- 
whackings of the campaign. The villages and settlements of 
the hostile Cherokees were laid waste, their crops and pro- 
visions destroyed, and they were compelled to sue for 

Such was the high estimate placed on Captain Cleve- 
land's fitness for frontier service, that early in the spring of 
1777, he was selected to lead his company to the Watauga 
settlements, to serve a tour for their protection against the 
yet troublesome Cherokees. After passing the rugged in- 
tervening mountain country, and reaching the Watauga 
Valley, Cleveland and his men made their head-quarters at 
Carter's Fort, while the Virginia troops were stationed at 
the Long Island of Holston. Though scouting was kept up, 
everjr pains were taken to bring the Indians to terms. Cleve- 
land's company concentrated, with the other forces, at the 
Long Island, where the celebrated treaty, in July of that 
year, was held, and at which Major Winston was one of 
the Commissioners. When peace was jnade, the Wilkes 
troops returned to their distant home. 

In the autumn of 1777, Captain Cleveland attended the 
Legislature — not as a member, but to use his influence for 
the division of Surry, and the formation of a new County, 
for the better convenience of the Upper Yadkin settlements. 
Wilkes County, thus formed, was named in honor of John 
Wilkes, noted for his steady opposition in Parhamentto the 
American war. In March, 1778, when the new County was 
organized, Cleveland was placed at the head of the commis- 
sion of Justices, and was made Colonel of the militia. Hence- 
forth we find Colonel Cleveland in regular attendance as 
one of the Justices of the County Court, and generally the 


principal bondsman for tlie Sheriff and otlier County officers. 
He was also often called on to fill other positions — Com- 
missioner for seizing confiscated estates, Superintendent of 
elections, and County Ranger or Stray Master. In 1778, 
he was chosen to represent Wilkes- County in the House of 
Commons, and was regarded as one of the popular leaders 
of the mountain region of the State. 

On one occasion, soon after the regiment was organized, 
it was ordered on service to the frontiers to quell some 
Tory disturbance. After no little indiscriminate plunder- 
ing of both Whigs and Tories, they returned home before 
the expiration of their term of service, with their ill-got- 
ten gains, before Colonel Cleveland was able to join them. 
He was highly displeased with their conduct, swearing, 
roundly that he would shoot the ring-leaders ; but he finally 
agreed to forgive them on two conditions — the restoration of 
their dishonorable plunderings, and to the end of the war, 
turning out on a minute's warning. All who had shared in 
the disgraceful pillage, returned the spoils of every kind, 
and were ever after prompt to engage in any service at the 
shortest notice. 

When the British invaded Georgia, in 1778, General 
Rutherford led a force from the back part of North Caro- 
lina, of which at least a portion of Colonel Cleveland's regi- 
ment formed a part. They repaired to Georgia, and shared 
in the winter campaign of 1778-79, which culminated in the 
disastrous defeat of General Ashe, at Brier Creek, before 
Lincoln and Rutherford could come to his aid. Returning 
from this service, Colonel Cleveland was chosen to repre- 
sent his County in the State Senate. In the summer of 1 780, 
he was constantly employed in suppressing the Tories — first 
in marching against those assembled at Ramsour's mill, 
reaching there shortly after their defeat ; then in chasing 
Colonel Bryan's band from the State ; and finally in scour- 
ing the region of New river in checking the Tory rising in 
that quarter, capturing and hanging some of their notorious 
leaders and outlaws. 


Then followed his King's Mountain campaign — the 
great service of his life — the wounding, while on the way, 
of his brother, Lieutenant Larkin Cleveland, by a Tory party 
under Captain John Murray, near Lovelady's Shoals; and 
then hurrying forward to grapple with the indomitable Fer- 
guson. The poet Hayne notices Cleveland in this battle as 
though he were a very round head of Cromwell's fervor and 
time : 

"Now, by God's grace," cried Cleveland my noble Colonel he, 
Resting to pick a Tory off, quite cooly on his kn-e, — 
"Now, by God's grace, we have them ! the snare is subtly set ; 
The game is bagged: we hold them safe as pheasants in a net." 

His heroic bearing in the contest, and his exciting ren- 
counter with the half-crazed Bowen, each so fortunately es- 
caping fatal results, have been already related. Besides 
having assigned to him, by general consent, one of Fer- 
guson's war horses, which lived to an uncommon great age, 
he carried home with him a snare-drum, to which he pointed 
with pride as a King's Mountain trophy, as long as he lived. 
There can be no question but Colonel Cleveland was con- 
spicuous in bringing about the execution of the Tory lead- 
ers at Bickerstaff's. His whole career during the war goes 
to show that he was severe in his treatment of the Tories — 
perhaps not unjustly so, considering the times and circum- 
stances of an exposed frontier, when the execution of civil 
law was so infrequent and uncertain. His brief command 
over the Tory prisoners at Bethabara has been elsewhere 
noticed. Sometime in November ensuing, James Coyle or 
Cowles, and John Brown — or Jones, as Wheeler has it — 
two notorious Tory plunderers, passing through Lincoln 
County, robbed the house of Major GeorgeWilfong of every- 
thing they could carr}' away, and then made off with a 
couple of his horses. Major Wilfong with a party followed 
the culprits, overtaking them near Wilkesboro, recovered 
the horses, but the ruffians made good their escape. They 
had appropriated Wilfong's clothes-line for halters, which 
the Major left behind, with which to hang the rascals should 


they ever be taken. Shortly after, as they were returning 
towards Ninetj^ Six, they were apprehended by some 
of Cleveland's scouts, and brought to Wilkesboro, where 
Colonel Cleveland ordered them hung with Wilfong's ropes. 
All admitted that though the execution was summary, it was 
nevertheless just. 

Early in 1781, when General Greene was manoeuvering 
on the upper border of North Carolina, Colonel Cleveland 
raised about a hundred riflemen, went to his assistance, 
serving awhile in the advance parties of light infantry, but 
returned home from their tour of duty a little before the 
conflict at Guilford. 

To Colonel Cleveland, whose career was replete with 
perilous adventures, an occurrence now transpired, which 
at one time threatened the most tragic termination ; and 
which, for its hair-breadth escapes, may be regarded as the 
most notable event of his life. Some thirty-five miles 
from his home at the Round- About on the Yadkin, and 
some twenty north-west of Wilkesboro, and in the south- 
eastern portion of the present County of Ashe, was a well- 
known locality, mostly on the northern bank of the South 
Fork of New river, called the Old Fields — which at some 
previous period, was probably the quiet home of a wander- 
ing band of Cherokees. These Old Fields belonged to 
Colonel Cleveland, and served, in peaceful times, as a graz- 
ing region for his stock. 

Having oc